A Roadmap to the Future

April 1, 2018
All businesses, whether big or small, need a vision of what their business will become. Do you have a vision for your company?

I’m sure you have heard this statement many times, courtesy of lyrics from the Grateful Dead: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

We all need a dream of what we wish to become with a road map to get us there. But what is a dream if not a vision? Many sources describe a dream as involuntarily images occurring in your mind during sleep, while a vision is “the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.”

All businesses, whether big or small, need a vision of what their business will become. Do you have a vision for your company?

A vision statement is a company’s road map, an indication both of what the company wants to become and guiding transformational initiatives that set a defined direction for the company’s growth.

As the business leader, it is up to you to lead the effort in creating your vision statement. This statement will give you and your team a vision of the future. This statement is not a mission statement (more on this later), and it is not for your customer. It is for you and your team to understand where you are going and a reason for your daily actions.

Your vision statement does not necessarily need to be long; in fact, make it as short as possible, because your entire organization should be able to recite it from memory.

I often suggest that you think of your business as a person. As a young man, what did you believe you would become? What did you think your future would look like in 10 years? Did you plan on marriage and children and the additional responsibilities that come along with them?

Now, replace yourself with your business. In developing your business vision, start with who you are now. What do you believe in, who is your targeted customer and how will you be serving them in the future?

Your vision should not be only about next year, but a long-term vision for the next five to 10 years. Don’t be concerned about possible limitations; dream big! If cost were not a concern, with no restrictions, what would you want the company to become in 10 years?

Your vision statement must be inspirational, so it will excite your entire team.

Over the next 10 years, technology will improve, exponentially changing the automobile as we know it forever. Tesla was just the beginning of that change. We don’t have a crystal ball to know exactly where the automobile industry will be in 10 years, but we do have some clues — the beginning of electric and driverless vehicles along with the talk of flying cars, to name a few.

Mission Versus Vision

The vision statement is your dream of what you will become. The mission statement is what your objectives are now.

Starbucks’ website states that their mission is, “To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

Their mission statement is a great example — one that a quick lube could replicate. A quick lube serves a customer one car at a time. A quick lube’s trade area is usually the size of a small neighborhood, and a quick lube’s customers are to be inspired by the quality of your service. Team members are to be nurtured to provide the best service in the industry.

These statements will give your team members a sense of where they’re going and why they’re doing what they do.

How do you craft mission and vision statements? First, you need to develop the tools necessary to implement your vision for your future and the mission that will get you there.

Along the way there will be risks, and you will make mistakes. For example, the building you built years ago most likely doesn’t match the services you perform today — or wish you could perform if it was suited for today’s opportunities. New services will require additional expenditures.

You must establish the necessary benchmarks to keep you on course along the way. Are they realistic and achievable?

Prioritize each benchmark, and set a definite date when each benchmark must be met. Make sure they are relevant and achievable. Benchmarks will give you reasons to reconsider your operation and to adjust based upon their results.

Develop a sound strategy supported by a detailed action plan. Your strategy will set the accomplishments needed to meet your benchmarks along the way.

Too often, we are all prone to go through the same steps everyday with little thought about where we’re going. By developing your vision statement, your entire team will know and understand what their future will look like. Knowing where you’re going helps you understand why you do what you do and that your position is important to your team reaching its goals.

Here are some great lessons I’ve learned along the way. Consider these, and always keep your mission and vision statements in mind:

  • Hold everyone accountable.
  • Communicate results often.
  • Hold weekly meetings where everyone is involved.
  • Repeat your vision and mission statements at every meeting.
  • Seek input from team members.
  • Review and discuss your most recent benchmark.

If you’re like me, you went through life taking advantage of what ever came your way. One of my favorite supervisors always asked, “How did that work for you?”

Take the time to sit down to think about what is going right and what is not. How can you do better in the future? How is the industry changing, and what affect will those changes have on your future?

Now is the time to make your plans and the necessary changes to be ready for your future.