Today, we’re going to take a short break from the business startup guides to ask you a question: what’s your vision? What is the indelible influence you want to leave on the planet after you’re gone? If you had to sum up you or your organization’s desires and ambitions in a single phrase, what would it be? Think about it honestly right now, be as idealistic as you like; you can only be as big as you dream.
I want to be vulnerable with you for a moment. I have a vision statement for my own life: elevate everyone. My dream is to live a life where everyone I meet, everyone who reads my blogs, every time I interact with something, they’re left feeling better about the world than they were beforehand. This is, of course, almost impossible; it would take a level of mindfulness, emotional astuteness and communicative skill that I don’t have. That said, the ideal always gives me something to strive towards; there’s always adjustments I can make to be a better person, so I can try to elevate everyone. By reaching for that goal, I elevate myself.
While a vision statement like that is fine for my personal life, it’s probably not well suited to your business. That’s because businesses should use more concrete terms for what they aim to accomplish; specificity is just as essential here as brevity. Here is a list of vision statements from non-profits; as you can see from examples like “equality for everyone”, you can be brief, have lofty ideals and tailor the vision statement to your business operations, like Human Rights Campaign did. It’s worth mentioning that for a lot of nonprofits, when their vision statement is achieved the nonprofit ceases to have a purpose; if everyone is equal, Human Rights Campaign no longer needs to operate, and if we live in “a world where everyone has a decent place to live”, Habitat for Humanity has done its duty.
A vision statement shouldn’t just be a sentence; it should be a way of life. You should be constantly striving to live up to the ideal you’ve set for yourself and for your business, otherwise, you won’t get any buy-in from those around you. That’s why while your ideals can be lofty, they should also be theoretically achievable; every year your organization lives closer to the ideal, it will become more realistic, and you’ll get more buy-in from employees. You should strive to keep the culture in line with the vision; if your statement is “equality for everyone” but some employees are treated badly by their co-workers and managers, it will become a snarky retort instead of an ambitious dream.
Now that your vision has been established, do everything you can to make it a reality; after all, it’s come from your heart, and you need to be the change you want to see. You can make a positive impact on the planet, and on all of humanity, leaving Earth better than it was before you were around. To do this, you’ll need to vigorously review your budget to make sure all of your resources are being used optimally; a well qualified tax accountant can help.