Running your own business – whether you’re talking about a young start-up or an established small-to-medium sized enterprise – is a long, hard road that is often fraught with peril at every turn. Try as hard as you’d like, you WILL make mistakes. Truth be told, you’ll probably make a lot of them.
You’ll hire the wrong people. You’ll get your market wrong. You’ll price incorrectly. You’ll make the wrong decisions. All of it has happened before and it will happen again.
But the quality that matters the most through these times – the single pillar that will continue to hold up your entire operation through thick and thin – all ultimately comes down to a single word: vision.
In terms of running a successful business, vision is everything – in more ways than one.
An Inward Vision: Developing the Right Strategy
Regardless of the industry you happen to be talking about, so much of success in the world of business comes down to developing the right strategy for the right market at the right time. It isn’t enough to say “I want to launch my product by X date” – you need to go deeper than that.
What are the steps you’re going to take to get to that point? What do you hope happens AFTER you meet that delivery date? What does success look like to your fellow team members? To your customers? To your investors? To yourself?
Vision is the quality that allows you to see the answers to these questions before they’re asked. As a business leader, the people you’re asking to follow you NEED to be reassured that you know what you’re doing – and that you know where you’re going. Having this vision – and learning how to communicate it – does more than just keep everyone on the same page.
It helps keep everyone moving forward at all times.
Making this type of vision a priority also allows you both to identify your priorities, but to remain flexible at the same time. As you begin to develop your strategy for success, certain things will naturally start to come into focus. You’ll begin to compartmentalize, separating your hopes and dreams from reality and knowing which direction to go in at any given moment.
Put it this way: as you hone your strategy and your intended path becomes clear, you’re in a better position to identify certain unintended opportunities as they arise. You may stray from the path to take advantage of them, but only by knowing what that path looks like in the first place will you be in a position to both do this and accomplish your long-term goals.
If you were setting out on a road trip across the country, you probably wouldn’t want to do so without a map by your side. Only through the insight that the map provides will you feel comfortable taking a detour here and there.
An Outward Vision: The Power of Communication
Once you’ve focused your attention inward and have taken the time to align your business with your long-term vision, it’s time to look outward, too.
In many ways, modern day branding and marketing isn’t necessarily just about communicating what your product or service can do. It includes these elements, but it also runs a fair bit deeper. It’s about doubling down on that internal vision and broadcasting what you’re trying to do and why you’re trying to do it to the widest possible audience.
Consider a piece of marketing collateral like a case study. On the surface, yes, it’s a way to show (often literally thanks to the power of visual communication) what your product or service can do when used in real-world environments. But it’s also doing something much more important, too.
It’s bringing your customers into the journey your business is taking while it is already in progress. It’s pulling back the curtain on that insular vision and letting people see the answers to important questions like “Who? What? Where? When? WHY?” themselves.
A case study (or an Infographic, or whatever material you choose) is a way to say to your customers “Here is the problem our client had – the type of problem we wanted to help people solve. This is why we made the decisions we did when designing our product. Here are the mistakes we all made. Here are the challenges we faced. Here are the ways in which we addressed all these factors and came out all the better for it on the other side.”
Every marketing decision that you make should ultimately be inclusive in this way. Whether you’re building a new presentation to show to investors or you’re creating a powerful new Infographic with a tool like Visme to reach a new category of customers, every piece of collateral should begin with a purpose.
But again – if you don’t have that literal vision in the first place, you won’t be able to hone the figurative vision you need to successfully reach your core audience. A failure to take these types of things into account is one of the major reasons why startups run into trouble in the first place.
They’re also contributors to one of the leading reasons why startups close their doors prematurely – they release a product in search of a market instead of catering to a market in search of a product. You’re solving a problem that nobody asked you to, or worse – one that doesn’t even exist.
In the world of business, many people take the term “vision” to mean “I need to know what I’m doing and where I’m going.” While this is true, you also need to be able to take those ideas and communicate them to those around you. This includes both the people within your organization that you’re asking to take the journey with you, along with the people outside who make up your target audience.
Without vision – the ability to see your destination before you get there – you don’t have a path. Without a path, you don’t have a product or service. If you don’t have a product or service, do you really have a business at all?