Growing up, I had my visions. At six, I was going to be President. In high school, a cheerleader, then film director, international banking guru – you get the picture. My visions changed or were left behind as I learned who I am and how I fit in the world. We are all a constantly changing, living picture.  So are our companies.

Every company has a vision but most remain unarticulated, unspoken, unshared. I’m talking about a defined concept of how your business is or intends to be seen in the world. What you, in particular, are bringing to market.

Company mission and company vision each have their own function. Your company’s mission statement is born from your vision statement. Whereas the mission statement directly faces your customers, your vision statement faces both into your company and out to the world – and it can be pretty difficult to articulate. That’s no small comment. Vision drives your place in the market while at the same time incentivizes your staff.

Vision is about company direction, market integration, future plans. It is a living concept with a static foundation. A company with an articulated vision possesses a map of the country in which they live. The landscape is clear, they know where they are, and, based on their defined vision, they not only know where they want to be but can also see and plan for options and obstacles through the life of the company.

So how does one build this lofty vision statement?

  • Through introspection.
    • Quiet uninterrupted time to find your first sentence and build from there.
  • Through repetition.
    • Networking events, family, friends, conferences, people next to you on the plane, standing in line for the bus. Get the words out of your head. It’s the only way to expand on or whittle down your definition. Fear or hesitation aside, you must keep talking it out and then adjusting, presenting and rinse/repeat until you have it simmered down to a rich, full statement.
  • Through listening.
    • What questions are you being asked? How can they flavor your vision base?
    • What input is your team giving you? Even if it’s not 100% on point, what can you cull?
  • Through knowing your company.
    • Your company isn’t just day-to-day tasks. Your company fills a core need, but to stay relevant there must be plans and options. I know it’s a cliché, but “where do you see yourself in five years?”
  • Through sharing company vision with all staff.
    • Your vision engages, inspires, and empowers your team, and provides them with a shared goal. This is an on-going process and team members will have valuable input coming from angles you don’t see.
    • No staff job is too small to share in the vision. This is key.

Think about this – how do you talk about your company? Usually you expand on goals, your team, the work you do, how you’re moving into the marketplace. No matter if your company is six months old or 25+ years, plans and goals come up in conversation, your visions for your company come up. You see where I’m going with this. Every time you talk about your company, you’re crafting your vision.

In life, luck, location, education, starting point and personality all contribute to your ability to obtain your personal vision.

In business, having a clearly defined, living company vision is the cornerstone to your business foundation.