I was soaring high above the trees and with ease I reached the clouds. I was flying like an angel, I was dreaming and I knew it. Have you ever had such a revelation when you knew you were dreaming? This is what is known as lucid dreaming, which means dreaming with awareness while you are asleep.
There is incredible creative potential in our dreams. Why not tap into that source? What if we could take the creative energy that our dreams offer and write a vision for our business, a strategic vision? I have done many presentations and coached many business owners on the importance of creating such a useful tool. The most common challenge I encounter is that most people have a hard time imaging what their ideal business would look like, say, five years from now. I like to offer the concept of lucid dreaming in order to assist in overcoming such difficulties.
Imagine yourself in a dream-like state. You are able to make anything happen: move the clouds, shift the shapes of the rocks, meet your soul mate. Now let’s move to your business. If you could imagine your ideal business, how would it look five years from now? Before you start, let me first explain what a strategic vision is and why I consider it to be a fatal flaw not to have one.
NO STRATEGIC VISION
Many people open their doors as soon as their business cards are printed. Yet running a successful business requires a real plan. Does your business operate without a vision of where you want to be in five years? Do you function day to day by making decisions without a strategic basis? I have seen many window coverings businesses that function from moment to moment without any idea of what tomorrow may bring. How can you make decisions without a road map to guide you? Creating a strategic vision is the first step in building a foundation for your company.
A strategic vision outlines your ideal business—the one you want to see become a reality sometime in the future. You should take a moment to imagine what you could create. Be bold. Try to think of ideas that might not be possible today. Also, consider your personal goals. If you could take time out of your busy day what would you do with it? Besides working, what do you like to do? What in your life fulfills you and makes you happy?
In my book, “The Designer’s Coach,” I break the process down into six parts. Each part focuses on a different aspect of business development. The first module focuses on you as the leader. There is a need to understand that a good dose of self-awareness is required in order to lead the organization. Before a successful strategic vision can be written and implemented, self-examination needs to take place.
The second module focuses on the team. Yes, even if you work alone, you still have a team. This may include your installer or anyone who contributes to fulfilling the needs of your customers. As the leader of your team, it is up to you to share your strategic vision. Your vision is useless if your team does not understand it or buy into the five-year plan.
Marketing is the third module and critical to the creation of a strategic vision. Questions will come up such as: How have you created awareness that appeals to your target market? How have you created a hook and a company story? How have you created a referral marketing system to encourage word-of-mouth marketing?
Having a practiced and evolved selling system and negotiating skill are the fourth and fifth modules. How do you sell? Do you wing it, or do you use a system to sell with? Do you focus selling based on price or by style and offering solutions? Then there are the questions of negotiation. How do you ensure you know the essential techniques of negotiating that preserve the bottom line?
Finally in module six, we deal with business systems. How have you implemented business systems to prevent costly mistakes? How has been thinking like a project manager improved your client fulfillment systems? What steps have you taken to ensure you meet the expectation of your customers?
Writing your strategic vision takes a lot of thought and time. Regardless of the extent of your business experience, this is an excellent tool. Remember, this vision should explain your future, not your present. Stretch your imagination; be bold with your vision, dream. This is your business. Only you can decide how great you would like it to be.
Neil Gordon is the founder of The WCU Online and The Designer’s Coach. He also owns Decorating with Fabric, a window coverings business and workroom in New York. Gordon is the national director of design for Exciting Windows! and serves on the board of directors for the Interior Design Society.He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web sites are: www.thedesignerscoach.com; www.thewcu.com; www.decoratingwithfabric.com; www.dwfcontract.com