• Derrek Ehrlich

5 reasons every business needs a vision

What is a Vision?

Let’s first discuss what a “Vision” even means for a business. From my experience, there is some misunderstanding around what it means. In some instances, it seems to be overly sensationalized. In others, it is confused with a Mission statement.

For clarity and simplicity, we will define a Vision as a single, infinitely long-term goal. It is future-oriented and aspirational. Whereas a Mission is neither future-oriented nor aspirational. A Mission simply states how you plan to achieve that Vision.

Note: At the end of this article, I’ll give some basic pointers on how to create your own Vision.

Let me give an example to illustrate the difference between Vision and Mission:

Vision Example: To make every person happy

It is future oriented and aspirational. It’s ideal and something simple enough you can actually picture (have a vision of) in your mind. But how would your business make people happy? You could own a restaurant, a travel company, or be a therapist. And that’s why the Mission is important, because it brings your Vision down to earth and lets people know what it is you actually do.

Here are a few examples of great Visions from companies today:

LinkedIn: Create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

Teach for America: One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

Alzheimer’s Association: A world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.

OneHive: To ignite every person’s professional passion because a world of passionate people will allow us to solve problems we never thought possible.

All of them are future-oriented and aspirational, envisioning their idea of a more perfect world.

The 5 Reasons

Now that we have a common idea of what a Vision is, let us examine how this benefits businesses. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is to realize the benefits of a Vision. We will start from the broadest benefits and move towards specificity.

1. Long-Term Success

If you want to succeed long-term, you need to plan long-term. It works exactly the same for personal successes. It is important to understand that every decision, every action, and every strategy is building towards the same end-game. The clearer, more succinctly, and further out you are able to articulate that, the greater your chances of success.

Long-term thinking also makes decision-making simpler. It can be easy to get lost in the trenches of day-to-day thoughts, so using your Vision as a North Star can be incredibly helpful.

2. Brand Control

Your brand is what other people say about your company. Rather than letting people create their own assumptions and ideas about what you represent and what you want to achieve, tell them. Tell people what you want your brand to represent and what you want to achieve.

This will help attract better customers and create a more loyal base. When people agree with and support your Vision, they’re more likely to agree with the decisions. For example, product/service additions and changes, your company makes over time.

3. Group Unity

Having a clear and genuine Vision creates better group unity because it gives all members instant common ground. It allows your business to attract the right people, repel the wrong people, and gives a strong sense of identity to all people involved (including partners and customers).

This is especially important considering the democratic nature of human beings. Whether we like it or not, we are socially democratic creatures, which fundamentally means that every individual has the power to contribute towards, or detract from, the progress of the group. Articulating a common goal and attracting people that want to achieve that specific goal is one of the most important things you can do to increase the unity of your business.

4. Aligned Decision Making

Aside from making decision-making simpler (reference Reason #1), a Vision also supports aligned decision-making across groups and large numbers of individuals. A business’s collective decisions are fundamentally the cumulation of all its individuals’ micro-decisions on a daily basis. Ensuring micro-decision alignment is pivotal for progress towards large-scale business milestones.

On a relevant tangent, I commonly like to refer to a Vision as the “ultimate manager.” So many leaders commonly fall into the rut of micromanagement because decisions are made from the top-down. With an effective Vision, leaders are able to focus on employee development and empowerment, instead, because the Vision does the decision management for you.

5. Gives Individual Purpose

People want to have a purpose, and without one, they will disengage. It’s simply a part of being human. In its most basic form, a “purpose” is the reason for which someone exists. And it’s something that will always remain deeply personal to the individual. It really cannot be considered anything but luck if a person can find purpose in an endless string of unrelated, short-term goals (think, quarterly projections).

So, with a Vision, you can attract people that find purpose in your Vision. This means they will therefore continue to find purpose, and continue to be engaged employees, for as long as the Vision is being pursued.

Tips on Creating Vision

As promised earlier, if you want to work to create a Vision for your business or your team (or even yourself!), I want to share a few basic tips that can help you make it the best it can possibly be:

  • Be Genuine - Don’t think about what other people want to hear. This is for your group, so considering how you feel is of utmost importance. There will be people your genuine Vision resonates with--be confident in that. If you don’t make it your own, you run the risk of losing motivation or going off-track down the road.

  • Humanize It - A Vision that is inanimate loses its edge, so talk about how your Vision impacts people (specifically, the people that will be your customers). For example, compare “To create the most advanced technology” and “To create technology that allows everyday people endless possibilities.” See the difference?

  • Be Specific - Don’t use vague words. For example, “To make the best food” doesn’t tell anyone anything. What does “best” even mean here? Is it the tastiest? The highest quality? The fewest preservatives? The healthiest? “Best” could mean any of the above, so tell people what you mean! Don’t be afraid to be niche. Or, to quote Alexander Hamilton, “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.”

And don’t forget to keep it future-oriented and aspirational.

I hope this helps! If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments. Do know, OneHive offers a professional program to help you Articulate Vision. Learn more about that program here.

OneHive's vision is:

"To ignite every person's professional passion because a world of passionate people will allow us to solve problems we never thought possible."

To find more about our vision and what we stand for, look here.

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