Not Having a Vision for Their Business. As we continue our series about the biggest mistakes of most business owners, we here at The Alexander Group explore the concept of “vision” and why it is so important for the short-term and long-term success of a business.
Early in any business endeavor, most business owners are forced to focus primarily on dollars and cents—doing whatever is necessary to keep the business up and running to turn a profit. Over time, the business owner must begin to focus beyond just cash flow. Making money is important, but so is success, growth, family, work/life balance and knowing how to make all of those things possible. A business owner may enjoy the long hours and total dedication now, but there may come a day when they may want to scale back or even retire comfortably.
Having a vision for the future of the business is critical, but it’s best done years in advance and adjusted annually to accommodate changes in the business and in the owners family. Investing in small business consulting can help business owners visualize a personal future that aligns with their goals.
When starting a business, it is natural to seek advice, but searching for that advice from the wrong people can lead to bad business practices and even to the failure of an entire business. While lawyers, accountants and insurance agents all play a role in specific aspects of running a business, the reality is that true vision for a business starts with the business owner. Here at The Alexander Group, we can help business owners realize their goals in distinct ways, that no other business resource can provide. Lawyers know the law and accountants know accounting, but the best resource a business owner can have for long term business success is an experienced business coach along with a trusted peer board of other business owners.
Developing that personal vision is an important step in defining the future of a business. Entrepreneurs must ask themselves essential questions centering on the owner’s involvement in and plans for their business. Knowing the answers to these questions can give them the vision they need for sustained success, as well as true happiness for the person running the show.
The following are some of the questions that business owners will answer when completing a personal vision statement:
As business owners get into the daily grind of making their businesses profitable, it grows increasingly simple to forget why they started those businesses in the first place. As such, it is important for business owners to keep focus on “Big Picture” impact. What activities can they do within their company that have the potential to bring about “Big Picture” impact? This may mean getting out there for public speaking engagements, selling accounts, or recruiting valuable employees. Business owners must figure out the activities that positively impact their businesses and then devise a plan to focus on those daily.
Business owners also must consider where they excel and have passion in the context of their business. Their passion may be to create new processes, sell big accounts, mentor employees, or develop strategic plans and alliances. Owners cannot be involved in every single daily activity, so focusing their time on the areas they care about most and delegating the aspects they are not passionate about is an important part of any business plan.
Good business owners have to delegate the work they are not passionate about to trusted and talented employees. It also means a business owner needs to identify talent and work to train and retain that talent to potentially lead the company. There is a saying in the corporate world, “You can’t get promoted until you train your replacement”. The same goes for a business owner, their vision must reach far into the future so the business can continue thrive without them. Often business owners are focused on the short term and can lose valuable planning time.
Certain business activities like day to day bookkeeping can be outsourced to a bookkeeping service, as long as the business owner is reviewing the financial statements. Business owners should know how much time they want to spend working at their businesses during a typical week and how many weeks each year they plan to use for vacation. Delegating certain tasks allows a business owner to stick within those goals.
However active a business owner may be, the time may come when they decide to take a step back and reduce or end their leadership of the business. What is that business exit strategy? Will it require selling the business outright or handing the reins to family members? Is there a desire to maintain ownership and control the business with a family member as COO? What if there is not a family member interested or qualified to take over?
Business owners planning to sell to non-family, what is the minimum market value amount acceptable for the sale, and what is the timeline for selling? These answers to these questions are a very important part of the personal vision and often require reflection and adjustment over time. An owner may not even know the answer to these questions yet, but they will need to come to a solution eventually. Planning ahead saves time and effort when that time arises.
Sometimes, a personal vision has little do with money. These intangible rewards may include being a leader in an industry, having political influence, philanthropy, creating secure jobs for their employees, or community involvement through non-profits. A business owner should understand exactly where their true personal motivations lie, which then informs the long-term vision for the business.
Building a business plan is the most tangible way to know where a company is, and where it plans on going in the future. Having a plan in writing and sharing it with employees is a great way for everyone to be on the same page and work toward something positive for the growth of the company. To be successful, human beings need purpose, so getting employees to buy in means having a business plan or mission statement that can return real results. People love goals, and finding ways to turn a vision into real goals is a big step toward achieving them.
The truth is that the vision of the individual and the vision for the business are inextricable. A highly-qualified business consultant here at The Alexander Group can help businesses put together a personal vision statement and bring their visions to life, so if you find yourself in need of business consulting, reach out and we can start the process of fine-tuning your vision immediately.
Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.