If there is one thing that is needed in every single business, it's a clear vision. As the Bible says, without a vision people wander aimlessly. Having a clear direction saves wasting effort on activities that won't help you get to where you want to go.

 

There are no hard and fast rules for developing a vision for a business (or for yourself) – but it must be real (not out of a cereal box) and reflect the personal aspirations and goals of the owner(s). A “vision” that fails on that score is hardly worth the paper it's written on (assuming it is actually printed).

 

It is not usually a single tag line though if that can be achieved it is impressive. Consider including elements from the following three components:


· Purpose - “Our widgets power the nation's security systems” or “We deliver outstanding, innovative catering to the entertainment industry in our town”

 

· Values - e.g. integrity, social responsibility, fairness, plain speaking, respect etc.

 

· Goals - “Within the next decade our ducted pipes will run into every new building in the CBD” or “We shall never lose a customer because our service wasn't deemed good enough” or “Our services will make our customers' products at least 5% more efficient every year for the next five years.”

 

Kick it around. Draft and re-draft as this is not a trivial matter. The finished statement must guide and drive the owners and team over the long haul. Whilst aspirational, people must be able to believe in it so it must be grounded in at least some of the reality they see day-to-day.

 

If your business has a team they must be involved if they are expected to buy into this vision. They must be given a chance to review and make comments upon the draft. Future potential members who have difficulty with it may be weeded out before becoming a problem for you. If you don't have a team, you should get people you know and respect (but not "yes" people) to help. No matter how clever you are, other people will always look at things differently.

 

Issues they have with it may well be worth considering – despite the effort put into a vision statement, it's not set in stone. A vision is a long term thing – not just a year or two. But it is not fixed. Reviewing it annually is a great idea – not only does the business environment change, but so to do people change. But frequent major revisions may well be a sign that the original effort was inadequate.

 

When concluded publish the vision on the business' website, on internal intranets and notice boards and other internal communications. The vision must guide decision making.

 

While that's the end of this subject, it's only the start for your business. You have to align your current activities to the vision. If you can't do this you need to revise the vision.

 

Firms that promote themselves as “healthy” or “green” without first defining what they mean by that, and second bringing their activities into line with it, are finding in today's world negative publicity can be very damaging.

 

You also have to develop a communication plan to share the vision. While this is primarily aimed at your team, there are other parties. You'll want to embed it into your publicity so there's a consistent theme. That doesn't mean simply adding it to your website. You need to make sure the website is then consistent.

 

A key question: Is there consistency between the vision of the business, its market positioning, the brand/image, and its culture?