Life begins with our first breath, and doesn’t exist without it. The same holds true for our business. We must breathe life into it if we want it to exist and grow. We know we need to network, promote, market and talk about our business at every opportunity. We might know how we want it to grow, through our marketing plan, but do we have a vision, an ultimate picture of what the business looks like at its peak?
Before we ever open our business, we spend time fantasizing what it could be. This is not wasted time, but an important first step in the process of accomplishing a successful business.
I consider myself a small business marketing coach. It’s something I naturally do when I talk with people who want to start a business. A coach knows what is possible and helps his/her students to perfect their techniques and procedures so they can be more effective. One of the first questions a coach will ask is “what is your vision?” “What do you ultimately want to accomplish?” “What do you see yourself doing that will make an improvement, be an innovation or benefit people?” Your vision gives you a sense of purpose. Think of your vision as an idea or a product of your imagination that has the potential to become a reality. Your entire business should be based on your vision, which is essentially the perfect business situation for you, and the perfect product or service that meets your customers needs.
I encourage my students to write their vision on paper or draw it as an image. It’s best to create a map and put your vision at the top of the paper. Many people like to create a collage. A map allows us to write-in our efforts and accomplishments. It allows us to see where we are on the road to the top. I’ve driven across the country several times. I’ll use a map to pinpoint where I’ll stop to eat, what attractions I’ll see and where I’ll spend the night. How long it takes to get to my destinations is determined by several unforeseen factors; motivation, roadblocks, and detours.
It’s helpful to ask ourselves, “What motivates us to be in business and move forward with our goals and dreams?” It might be money, or ego. It might be for the fame or to provide a better life for ourselves and our families. Or maybe we want to continue to offer innovative and necessary products and services. Are we taking our time in getting there, or are we speeding along? Or is it a natural process? Doors open when they are meant to open. It’s important to know what motivates you, because that will determine in part how long it will take for your vision to become a reality.
Roadblocks stop us, and for good reason. The road ahead may be unsafe. We may not know what lies beyond the roadblock, but when your way is blocked and blocked consistently, then it’s time to make another choice. Keep that road in mind for later, when it may be open to you.
Detours take us out of our way, and make the trip a longer one. Ask yourself if you are focused? Are there situations that take you away from what would benefit your business and help it to grow. Be aware of what the detours or detractors are in your day, and keep them to a minimum.
Many business leaders have a lofty vision of what their business could be, yet they seldom start at that level. They grow into their vision. It’s like children who play dress-up with their parent’s dresses, hats and shoes, which are too large for their little bodies. Children accept this and realize that someday they’ll grow into adult size clothes. The same process applies to us and our vision. Our current business may seem small and insignificant by comparison. With time, patience, and persistence we’ll grow and fit into that vision. We breathe life into our business by being strong, confident and keeping positive thoughts. Remember that everything you think will move you in one of two directions. Your thoughts will either propel you forward or hold you back. The choice is yours.