Successful businesses begin as dreams in the minds of entrepreneurs. A written vision can help chart your path and guide your actions, and you don’t need a lot of time or money to do one.
All you need is a computer, or a pen and some paper, and about an hour of free time. Find a comfortable spot and pour yourself a drink of your favourite beverage. Here are three guiding thoughts to help you get started:
Once you have begun, don’t stop until you have finished writing the entire vision.
Don’t worry about getting the vision perfect with the first writing. Revise later.
The vision shouldn’t be more than a page or two.
This process will help to clarify your direction if you are simply considering a business idea; it can be equally effective for getting on-track if you’re already in business.
1. Describe your business. A brief paragraph including the business name, location and structure. You might also note the size and scope of the business.
2. Write your business mission. No more than a sentence describing what you will sell, to whom and your competitive advantage.
3. Write your vision statement. One sentence telling what kind of business you want your enterprise to be (the best, the fastest, the most competitive).
4. Describe your products and services. This can be a paragraph or a simple list if there are only a few.
5. Describe the industry and the niche your business will serve. This paragraph might include the size of the industry, whether it’s growing or shrinking, and any major trends and challenges faced by the players.
6. List your top five business goals for the year. This can include sales projections, the number of workers you plan to employ, and any other major milestones you hope to achieve.
7. Describe your customers. A paragraph on those who will buy your products and services (gender, age, family status, income level), including how many there are and where they are.
8. Describe your competition. This might be a paragraph or a simple list of the main competitors in your market area.
9. List your strengths and past successes that will help you fulfill your vision. This could include things like work history, educational achievements or hobbies.
You can keep your written vision in a visible location as a reminder, or you might use it as a starting point to develop a business plan. The difference between a raw business vision and a business plan is a few hours of research and validation. This means getting out there and talking to customers, competitors and anyone else knowledgeable about the business, and it also includes crunching numbers to determine if your idea will be sustainable or profitable.
I wish you a healthy, fun-filled and prosperous New Year!
Dan Boudreau is Author of Business Plan or BUST! and hosts a blog at http://www.riskbuster.com/blog.