Construct Your Vision and Values
Your dreams and desires, along with the changes you want to see happen in your life, will drive your business success.
In fact, you may see your business as the key to achieving your vision. But if you don’t pause to clarify this vision from the outset, your chances of achieving it are drastically reduced.
Uncover Your Personal Vision
What is a vision? It’s your ideal picture of the future you want to create for yourself and others. It is unique to you. It ties into the big “why” as your vision depicts that big “why” coming to fruition.
Most likely, your personal vision and your business vision will be closely linked. This is usually the case for entrepreneurs. But if you’re just starting out, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to articulate your business vision at this stage.
Here’s a quote from Steven Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”:
“How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and, keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most.”
The way to get to the point of clarity with your personal vision is to have a written vision statement.
Let’s look at a couple of examples:
“To have fun in my journey through life and learn from my mistakes.” Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group
“To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” Oprah Winfrey, Founder of OWN
You’ll notice that neither of these vision statements mention business, though they were written by incredibly successful business people. Their personal vision is their big “why.”
Here are some guidelines to help you write yours.
A vision statement:
Ø Sets out high-level goals.
Ø Inspires you.
Ø Motivates you.
Ø Contains feelings and emotions.
Ø Is written in the present tense.
What Are Your Values?
Values are a part of us too. They highlight what we stand for — things like honesty, integrity, openness — and represent our unique, individual essence.
Values guide our behaviour, providing us with a personal code of conduct. When we honour our core values consistently, we experience fulfilment.
Here’s an exercise to help you define your core values. At the end of this exercise, you want to have written down between 5 and 8 values that are key to your existence.
1. Write down the personal values you feel you must honour at all costs.
2. Group these values under related themes. For example,
Ø Values like accountability, responsibility and timeliness are similar in that they all relate to integrity.
Ø Values like learning, growth, and development are similar as they relate to openness.
3. If you still have a sizeable list of values, you need to whittle your list down to the most important ones. These are the values that you’d stand up for no matter what. Ask yourself this question:
Ø What values are essential to my life?
4. When you have 5–8 values written down, rank them in the order of importance.
Then, step back and ask yourself:
Ø Do you feel these values are consistent with who you are?
Ø Are they personal to you?
Ø Do you see any values that feel inconsistent with your identity (as if they belong to someone else, like an authority figure or society) and not you?
Ø Check your priority ranking. Do you feel like your values are in the proper order of importance?
Put Your Values into Action
It’s fairly easy to see how the values of the individual who heads a small business or start-up will have an impact on that business.
Once you know what’s most important to you personally, you can use those values to help guide you in choosing your company’s most important values.
How Will Your Personal Values Help You Create Your Business?
Let’s take an example:
If you care for the planet and what it’s becoming, it’s likely that environmental issues are close to your heart. This will have an effect on how you want to manage the carbon footprint of your business. You’ll want to avoid bringing in raw materials by plane from the other side of the world and you’ll try to source these materials locally.
Looking at values will help you design how you want your business to look and to operate.
Ask yourself, from the position of your key values:
Ø How do I want my customers/employees/partners to be treated?
Ø How do I need to run my business so I stay true to my values?
Ø Where in my business do I need to pay particular attention to aligning my values?