You need a Personal Vision and a Business Vision because hard work and dedication do not guarantee success. What are you working hard on? What are you dedicated to? To be successful, you need to be working hard on the right things, and you need to be very clear what it is you're dedicated to.
I can recall a time in the past when I would have balked at the idea of writing anything so wish-washy as a vision statement. "That's a complete waste of time!" I would have said. "Vision statements are for poncy pontificators who prefer to just talk about stuff instead of getting down to doing stuff!"
Ah - happy days!
Life back then was black-and-white, action-oriented and free from distracting nuances.
"The bad guys have captured the good guys! We need to rescue them! What's your plan, O Leader?"
"My plan is that we should arm ourselves, then go in and rescue them!"
"Great! Let's do it!"
I guess I must have grown up and adjusted my views because in a mentoring program that I used to run, the second stage of a seven stage process required my mentees to write two short documents: a Personal Vision statement and a Business Vision statement.
[In case you're wondering what the first stage was, it was something I called Asserting. It involves disentangling yourself from the tendrils of certain bad practices and mindsets.
Unless you escape from these tendrils, which almost everyone gets caught up in, you can spend years struggling and working hard without making any significant progress on setting up an online business. I saw that happen many, many times (and still do) after experiencing it for myself when I first started my online ventures.]
Getting back to the Personal Vision and Business Vision statements - to confirm that I really have grown up, I'm pleased to say that when I first started working on this current business venture, I decided to take my own advice and actually write both vision statements for myself.
And I can confirm that it is very good advice, and it works!
But it would be a mistake to think that you can write them once and then forget about them.
In fact, one reason that I'm writing about this topic today is because I was reminded about it by my task management system. Earlier today it presented me with a reminder that I'm due to review my Vision statements. I did that, and the review provided very valuable re-alignment and re-focusing.
These statements helped me (and can help you) define a strong clarity of purpose and they provide a context and guidance for when you start defining your business (see below).
What is in a Personal Vision Statement?
My Personal Vision statement has two parts....
The first part is Self Reflection, which helps me document what I believe I understand about myself.
Second is a collection of Objectives.
What is critically important is to make sure the two parts are congruent. It would be a disaster to have objectives that don't align with your values and interests and so on.
I've structured my Personal Vision statement under the following headings...
What are the core values you aim to live by?
How would you like to be remembered?
What is really important for you?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
What are your passions and interests?
Objectives around Family & Friends
Objectives around Civic Activities & Hobbies
Objectives around Health & Fitness
Objectives around Things to HAVE and Things to DO
Objectives around your Business
The objectives around my business (e.g. income goals!) enable some elements of the other objectives to be achieved. They also provide input to my Business Vision.
The Business Vision Statement
My Business Vision statement is quite a lot simpler and consists of just four strategic objectives. It is very generic and does not presuppose any particular type of business or business model.
For some reason I keep thinking it should be longer, but after reviewing it I can't see anything to change at the moment.
In fact, there is a much more substantial document which I have also created - a Business Definition document (also part of my past mentoring program) - which describes the characteristics and set up plan for the particular business which I want to develop. In this case that business is, of course, Your Digital Ally.
I will write more about the Business Definition document in a later post.
What's the real point of Vision Statements?
Whether you're just starting up a new business or whether you've been working on one for a while, I do highly recommend creating, and regularly reviewing, both a Personal Vision statement and a Business Vision statement.
As I am experiencing for myself, they will help you answer two questions which you should be constantly asking yourself.
- Am I still heading in the right direction?
- Is this still the direction I want to be heading in?
Or to put it another way...
- Is my strategy and are my actions still aligned with my vision/purpose?
- Do I wish to change my vision/purpose?
Clearly, you shouldn't change your vision or purpose very often, if at all. But you should constantly remain open to that possibility because, as you build your business, you're quite likely to be building yourself and developing personally. And that personal development could well result in you wanting to reevaluate your personal Vision.
I hope I've made a strong case for creating - and regularly reviewing - Personal and Business Vision statements. And I hope you will make it a top priority to do that now.
Sure - you could simply "arm yourself and charge in to rescue the good guys" - and you could make fast progress for a while. But the chances are that, sooner or later, you'll either get shot or end up interminably in a non-productive defensive position.
It may not be obvious to you at that time that you ended up like that because of a lack of vision statements - but I'd be willing to bet it would be a major contributory factor.
I hope that helps.
P.S. For anyone who would be swayed by Biblical advice, here are over 50 variants of a well-known proverb with a similar sentiment to what I'm writing about.