A Complete Business Development Machine

6. Vision

Where there is no vision, the people perish…

Before Diving In To This Next Section

A few Words about Words

“When definitions of terms get jumbled, mischief results.” 

I’ve selected five terms, consisting of six words, that express ideas that I believe are foundational to the development of a business. These words are: Vision, Mission, Core Value, Strategy, and Tactics. I place a great deal of emphasis on these words and have created specific definitions for them to provide clarity of communication within the context of my working with small business owners. These ideas and words are covered in this section and the four section following this one.

In addition to the five ideas above, I’ve selected several more words that I will also attempt to define for use in this discussion of business development.  The first three, have to do with office, as well as the attributes of a person who may hold an office; they are: Leadership, Leader and Lead. Two more: Knowledge and Wisdom, have more to do with the attributes of a Leader. A business, regardless of entity type, must have a Leader with the courage to be held accountable and accept the responsibility of the welfare of the business and all of its components (employees, customers, vendors, equipment, etc).

A note regarding these words:

Knowledge, Wisdom, and Leadership are attributes or qualities integral to the process of business development. The extent to which they exist will, to a large degree, determine the measure of the success of the organization and the individuals within it. The last improves naturally, as do the first two.

A note regarding Knowledge:

The awareness and retention of things, such as data and information, along with the ability to access and recall them; the ability to see these elements within a broader context, then link and analyze them (this feeds the next concept: Wisdom).

A note regarding Wisdom:

The ability to use Knowledge in a meaningful manner and exercise sound judgment; attempting to do things rightly and with a good outcome; the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships: insight, good sense, judgment, and the proper application of Knowledge.

A useful measure of Wisdom may be “the distance into the future which a thought can be cast”,  and then, of course, the extent to which actions align with the thought.” The farther into the future we are able to see accurately (with our mind’s eye, so to speak), the wiser we may be, and our leadership may improve as a result.

A note regarding Leadership:

The quality within an individual which causes them to have a clear Vision (see next section); select the right team and guide them, by working together, to the realization of this (the leader’s) Vision; and simultaneously help each individual to develop and move toward realizing their own. Though sometimes difficult, leadership can, and should, be enjoyable!

Two more words:

Training (the How)
Education (the Why)

A couple of things to bear in mind:

“You’re not a leader until you produce a leader who produces a leader.”

“For a boss, you will do what you have to do; for a leader, you’ll do all that you can.”

Section 1. Vision, the Goal that you seek:

I realize that I have a section with the same name as the chapter. That is because I tuck all five of the terms, I use in this chapter under the heading of the first, Vision, the other four exist to bring about the realization of the Vision.

I once read of a story about Tom Watson, the founder of IBM. Asked to what he attributed the phenomenal success of IBM, he is said to have answered:

 IBM is what it is today for three special reasons.

The first reason is that, at the very beginning, I had a very clear picture of what the company would look like when it was finally done. You might say I had a model in my mind of what it would look like when the dream—my vision—was in place.

The second reason was that once I had that picture, I then asked myself how a company which looked like that would have to act. I then created a picture of how IBM would act when it was finally done.

The third reason IBM has been so successful was that once I had a picture of how IBM would look when the dream was in place and how such a company would have to act, I then realized that, unless we began to act that way from the very beginning, we would never get there. In other words, I realized that for IBM to become a great company it would have to act like a great company long before it ever became one. From the very outset, IBM was fashioned after the template of my vision. And each and every day we attempted to model the company after that template. At the end of each day, we asked ourselves how well we did, discovered the disparity between where we were and where we had committed ourselves to be, and, at the start of the following day, set out to make up for the difference. Every day at IBM was a day devoted to business development, not doing business. We didn’t do business at IBM, we built one.

It has been my experience that one of hardest things for a small business owner to do is create, articulate, and reduce to writing, a Vision.

A Thing to Consider

About the Picture Above

As simple as the graphic is, I believe the concept is rarely considered, but note:

  • If we are truly passionate about what we do, it will help get us through tough times; if we are not, we may become discouraged and quit too soon. Passion provides fuel for creativity and stamina.
  • If we do can make a profit, it will last and grow, but if not, it will fade away. It is the profit that feeds the business, its employees, vendors, and all those who serve your customers and clients.
  • If we are good enough to stand out above the crowd, it will protect us from becoming a commodity, a thing that is purchased because it is the cheapest. We do not want to be the cheapest, but the best!

The extent to which we can say “Yes” to all three largely determines our chances of building a business.

A deficiency in one or more may provide a hobby but not a business.

A working definition of Vision. At a minimum, it must contain the following:

  • The Goal. What do you, the CEO/owner(s), see the organization being at some time/date in the future? This should be specific and measurable:
  • Date the Vision is realized
  • Sales, Gross and Net profit, a Pro-Forma Profit and Loss Statement, one as of today and one for the realization date
  • Balance Sheet, today and realization date
  • Business value (amount and method of valuation)
  • Organizational charts, today and realization date
    • These things reveal the gap between the where you are and your destination and begins the thought process to close it.
  • A descriptive narrative of the business, today and realization date

You should be able to know when your Vision is realized. It may change very little or not at all. In a perfect world, it would not change, but would simply be realized by the completion of a well-designed Mission and all that follows it (see below).

Purpose: Provide Clarity and Focus. First in your own mind and then bring clarity and focus to all those you would lead (or otherwise include in a leadership position). You may also share this with key employees, lenders, and investors. There may be sensitive components of your Vision that are shared on a selective basis.

Action: Review annually or as often as required and revise as needed.

The end of all your thoughts and actions regarding your business should be the realization of your Vision.

Section 2. Mission, the thing that you are on to realize your Vision:

Mission: What you must accomplish to realize your Vision. We, “Go on a Mission”.

Purpose: Provide “The Message” to Communicate. The Mission communicates what you are doing, and will do, for team members, customers, and clients along with how you do it. It should be crisp and clear, not just an accumulation of words for the sake of appearance; it articulates what is intentionally put into action every day.

Action: Print it. Review it with each person in your organization. Post it where all can see it. Put it on your website. Make it as public and as visible as possible.

Section 3. Core Values

This topic is presented primarily within the context of building a team. The team, in this case, being employees and key vendors (especially those subcontractors that may have close contact with your customers and clients).

These core values should represent the values that are “truly” at the core of the: CEO, President, or Owner of the company.

Purpose: Provide a Guide to the Selection and Management of People. The closer the match in the core values of people, the better are the chances for a strong and lasting relationship. We may attempt to make this match subconsciously in many cases, but in the case of organizational team building, when the emphasis is done consciously, deliberately, and formally, the entire organization benefits along with each of its members. This will be explored more in the Team Members portion of this scribbling.

Action: As CEO, give the topic sufficient thought, determine your core values, and put them in writing.

Section 4. Strategic Planning

Section 5. Quarterly Objectives

Section 6. Meeting Rhythms