Running a business can be hectic. You will have to be put out fires and fix upended plans at some point. It helps to have a compass of sorts that you can use to get back on track when this happens. The most fundamental compass you can have in your business is a vision. Crafting a vision for your business will inform you and others of what it is your business does, who it does it for, and where it’s going.
When you think about some of your favorite companies or organizations, who comes to mind? For me, I think of organizations like Google and the Marine Corps. Both these organizations are highly successful. But they both have something else in common too; vision statements. Google’s is to “provide an important service to the world-instantly delivering relevant information on virtually any topic.”(I had to google it); the Marine Corps’ is “As the premier expeditionary total force in readiness, the Marine Corps will be tailored to answer the nation’s call at home or abroad.”
You can see from these statements that each organization is laying out, explicitly who they are, what they do, and who they do it for. In fact, you won’t find a large, successful company or organization without one. Why is that? It’s because these organizations know the value of having a vision.
Vision statements get everyone in the organization and it’s clients/customers on the same page. It’s the job of an organization’s leader to communicate purpose and direction; that is what a vision communicates. Visions inspire people to action. Visions encourage people to behave in ways that further the vision. Importantly, visions communicate directly to the people you are trying to help, i.e. your clients/customers. A vision is not simply a marketing ploy, it signals and inspires like-minded individuals to action.
“What” and “Why”?
I’ve struggled with the direction of my company, uVest Advisory Group, LLC, in the past. And one of the reasons was that I did not have a vision for the company. When I first started the company, I tried offering all kinds of different services to all kinds of different people; there was no target, there were no core services. As a small business starting from scratch, I needed one thing, revenue.
As I grew, finding the next client became less about keeping my head above water and more about enjoying the swim. I thought about “why” I even bothered providing financial planning services, “who” I actually enjoyed providing those services to, and “what” I wanted uVest to be in the future.
After sitting down with my thoughts, I decided that helping people increase their sense of well-being was my “why.” I wanted to help people thrive and navigate life’s challenges in a financial world. It’s not about any crazy enduring love I have for finances (seriously, who loves finances?); It’s about bringing to bear a skill-set that I have to improve lives. Were that skill-set to be different, then that is the route I would pursue to improve lives. But circumstances have dictated that my skill-set includes thinking about the world financially; and so that is what I will work with in my mission to help people thrive.
Next, I started thinking about “who”; i.e. who is it that I want to help thrive and navigate life’s challenges. Experience has taught me that being able to relate to your client’s issues makes building rapport and giving good advice much easier. I decided that I wanted to help people most like myself, i.e. young(ish) professionals who are driven and goal oriented. Professionals who are coachable and open-minded. Professionals who are trying to grow to the next level and want to have an impact in their communities. Civic-minded professionals. All things that I consider to be relatable.
Pulling Your Vision Together
With that knowledge in hand, I was ready to craft a vision: “Improving the well-being of young professionals through high-touch financial planning and coaching.” uVest is a growing small business and I recognize that things will change, the financial planning environment will change, our goals may change, but our guiding vision will be there to show the way forward.
If you’re a small business owner (although you don’t have to be to have a life mission), I highly encourage you to sit down with your thoughts and really think about why you’re doing what you’re doing. Crafting a vision for your business can be a rewarding exercise!
If you found this article helpful, you might also enjoy this one about setting better goals for yourself. For free resources and information about crafting a vision for your business check out the folks over at the Entrepreneurial Operating System.
Erik Goodge is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and the President of uVest Advisory Group. He holds a B.S. in Economics and Cognitive Science from the University of Evansville. Erik is a Marine Corps veteran of the Afghanistan campaign and Purple Heart recipient. He is from Evansville, Indiana, and currently lives in near-by Newburgh with his wife and daughter.