How’s your vision? No, I’m not referring to short-sightedness or your begrudging investment in reading glasses. I’m talking about the future of your business. When you look five or ten years down the line what do you see? Is it a big blur or a clear image? Being clear about where you intend to be in a decade is all part of Strategic Planning and deserves serious consideration. It doesn’t matter whether you’re contemplating ideas, about to start up or already operating a business, you need to know where you’re heading otherwise you risk not getting anywhere at all. So let’s focus on the future, specifically your Vision Statement. If you have one you may like to review it, otherwise get a pen and notepaper and find somewhere quiet to think. Scribble words, phrases, or short sentences that you feel sum up where you want your business to be in, let’s say, ten years and what success means to you. Aim to wrap up your vision of the future: In 50 words or less A single paragraph. Make it positive and dynamic, Exciting enough to motivate you when you read and re-read it. It needs to fire up others, either stakeholders in your business, potential recruits to your company, bank managers or investors who you’d like to buy in to your venture. I maintain that this single exercise kick-starts the planning you need to do to achieve success. This is something I believed when I set up Diva Cosmetics (as a new mother) back in 2000. I had a wealth of experience and expertise in the industry, I was focussed on what I wanted, and knew exactly how I was going to get it. It was, in essence, written down in 45 words! Running a business is challenging, decisions have to be taken and if you’re not absolutely certain where you’re heading it’s possible to stumble, lose your way and ultimately miss out on the success that should have been yours. I often referred back to Diva Cosmetics’ Vision Statement when confronted by difficult decision-making. If opportunities led me away from my original strategy, I refused to be sidetracked. Establishing my goals was a priority at Diva Cosmetics. I knew from day one where I wanted the business to be and achieving a fantastic £1m in the first 12 months was, of course, all part of the plan. I made use of a planning system I call my SEVEN BUSINESS DISCIPLINES to ensure I didn’t deviate from the path towards success. Having sold the company, I now use this proven system to guide entrepreneurs. Of course, there are many facets to my first discipline, Strategic Planning, but having a clear and considered Vision Statement is a very positive start. Once finished, put the statement aside for a week or two. When you go back to it, review it, edit it and leave it again. Repeat this process until those 50 words mean what they say. Now you have your vision for success. Success doesn’t just happen it takes enormous effort and hard work. It also takes thorough planning, specifically Strategic Planning as a foundation to build everything else on, so now you see just how vital it is. A lack of research and planning is often blamed for business failure, so do make sure your business planning is watertight. If you’re daunted by that then consider getting advice from someone who’s already got what it is you want. Planning is crucial to your success whether you’ve been in business days or years, so do seek advice. First things first though, sort out your Vision Statement. Make sure it really reflects your business and where you want it to be in the future. Every time you make a decision, let the words of your vision run through your mind and be true to them. Focus on where you want to be with the clearest of vision and be determined never to lose sight of it. Who knows where you’ll be in ten years? You do… because you’d have planned it!