I’m still munching on the massive number of cookies I baked at the holidays this year. As I pull box after box out of the freezer, each trip reminds me of all the seasonal activity and how I struggled to balance spending time with my family, finding time with friends, and being productive at work.
I’ve learned two things:
- It’s inadvisable to store cookies in the freezer when you work from home.
- In the swirl of holiday activity, it’s difficult to keep forward momentum for your business.
There are some benefits to this professional lull, however, when customers, vendors and partners are busy with the holidays. It gives small business owners like us time to reflect and plan, and the very first step is to create a vision statement.
Why does it make a difference? The title of this Forbes.com article sums it up for me, Vision Is Not the Roadmap, It’s the Reason for Having the Map in the First Place. I’ve used the map analogy to teach strategic planning to my students. What the article title from Forbes says to me is that the journey is not possible without the inspiration; the plan is not possible without the vision.
Get started on your own vision statement
Take advantage of the quiet holiday season to reflect on 2016 and explore your motivation for 2017.
Get out of the office.
If your home is your office like mine is, get out of the house. If you stay in the place where you do your work you’ll be too tempted to figure out what to do instead of why you want to do it.
Find somewhere quiet, or with an abundance of white noise, and reflect.
I prefer my local coffee shop to pure silence. Wherever you choose, it’s important to find a soothing place to take stock of last year. This is where you’ll take a look back at 2016’s successes and missed opportunities. Don’t linger on the misses because you have another year ahead of you.
Let your heart guide your pen.
If this sounds a little out there, stay with me a second. If you like to draw, doodle what you want to see for yourself and your business in 2017. If you’re a list maker, make a list. If you like to write stories, write a short story about yourself. Are you seeing the picture?
There is no right way to begin the process of getting your ideas for your vision statement on paper. Start in the way that you like best.
Recipe for successful planning
If the four edges of a blank page look a little scary, don’t worry. I have a recipe for you!
There are three ingredients for a successful small business vision statement: personal, professional, and growth.
The personal component includes inspiration for your mind, body, and soul.
Yes, I’m aware that this is your business vision statement. As a small business owner you are a large part of what makes your company successful. Plus, you’re the boss. So why wouldn’t you plan a business vision statement that incorporates your friends and family, your health, and some fun?
The professional component includes the contribution you’ll make to your business and industry.
This is the most common ingredient in a business vision statement. Make sure to mix equal parts inspiration for finances, partnerships, employees, and customers. Michael Hyatt, a well-known business coach and author, shares his business vision for a publishing company that he took over during his career. Read his account for some ideas and examples.
The growth component involves prioritizing an activity for the sake of lifelong learning.
Have you ever watched a toddler explore something new? Learning about the fruit bowl, for example, is not about becoming a better fruit distributor. They explore for the sake of learning. They aren’t goal-driven but experience-driven. Be sure to include time in your plan to develop new pathways in your brain and identify learning activities to invest in your long-term growth.
When you put these ingredients together, you’ll come out with the most delicious vision upon which to build your plans for 2017. Can you just taste it?
Looking backward to move forward
Let me share an example of my vision for 2016 and my reflection going into 2017. Note: What you’ll see below is the vision. The plan overview is included in this post.
Personal vision 2016: I will become comfortable seeing myself in pictures. I will take more pictures of myself and share them professionally and personally.
Reflection: I had professional headshots taken and I took selfies approximately once a month (to the horror of my teenagers) and shared them on Instagram and Facebook.
Professional vision 2016: I will develop a more consistent pipeline for business.
Reflection: Well … this vision suffered a little. While I built excellent relationships, because I decided to refocus all my work on learning and development, I’m scrambling for business in January once again. I’ll have to set monthly goals next year to stay on track.
Growth vision 2016: I will learn about and use Instagram as a way to tell my personal and professional story.
Reflection: I’ve done really well with this vision. As a goal-oriented business person it’s easy to get caught up in how my profile is working and if I should be using it for business. In the spirit of a growth vision, I simply learned to use it in a way that lets me tell my story.
With a combination of a visioning process and a mindset geared for success, I’ll be nestled into a seat at my local coffee shop getting ready for 2017.
Perhaps I’ll see you there.
Also published on Medium.