- Posted by tonyw
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Years ago, while brand managing in a global FMCG business, I learned all about the importance of having a business ‘Vision’. A company’s Vision is a qualitative exercise, both intellectual and visceral. It’s about where a company wants to be, what it wants to look like in the future and why it’s confident about getting there. This picture was amplified through the company’s Mission Statement – the things the company wanted to achieve but which were described in a quantified way. This again provided everyone with a clear understanding of the where, why and what the business had in mind for the future – for its stakeholders, its employees, its customers and suppliers too, for that matter.
Today, as an advisor to owners of small businesses, I thoroughly recommend the same practice of having a clear Vision and Mission. And yet in my experience many SMEs fail to do this. This is a pity because the benefits are plentiful, such as having a long-term goal supported by a series of short and medium term objectives. Once these are in place, strategies to make them happen can be developed. Without such objectives it’s difficult to steer a business in a consistent direction, let alone have a sound basis for making business-critical decisions.
Once shared, the Vision gives a business its ‘North Star’ – a guide to follow on its voyage over time, and everyone ‘on board’ can see it. Everyone can see why certain decisions are being made and this helps confirm that the leaders of a business know what they’re doing. Equally it allows everyone to challenge decisions made which are in conflict with it. And this can help to keep the top team on its toes! And that can’t be a bad thing.
Right now, following Brexit, the time is right to review your company’s Vision and Mission for the future, especially if you do business abroad or buy goods or services priced in US dollars. True, the picture is still pretty murky but some important factors are clear. The biggest of which is that uncertainty, that devil in all business planning, will remain with us for quite some time. Does this then affect your medium-term thinking – and as a result, your expectations for the endgame of your business, whatever that may be?
One thing is for sure, without 20:20 vision you simply won’t know the answer!
Tony Wightman is a Director of Wellwood Consulting