You must know what you’re working for to understand where to invest your time and resources. Here are some strategies for building your 3-year vision plan.
By Brian Nolan
Every morning, you get up, go to work and lead your painting company through another day. You’re satisfied if you get through the day without too many problems from your customers and employees. You’re even happier if there’s money left over for you. Then, you get up and do it all over again. So, where’s it all going?
That depends on your vision for your company. You must know what you’re working for to understand where to invest your time and resources.
What do want from your business?
Is your business serving you or are you serving it?
Do you want to grow it? Stabilize it?
Should you develop additional leaders to ease your burden?
Every busy owner starts their business with a vision for the future—a summit, a far-off peak that they dream of reaching. Often it’s in their head. Few business owners take time to write their vision down, share it and use it to guide their actions. As times goes on, business becomes about the day to day. The original vision is taken over by daily commitments. What’s more, their employees never really know about it.
Identifying your vision
As a business leader, your primary objective is to see through the fog and identify where you want your company to go. This is your company’s vision. Your vision is a picture of a desired future state. I like to use a three-year vision point. It’s a timeframe that’s within reach.
Dreaming about the future of your company is the first step to creating the workplace you want.
Your company vision should be specific enough that it guides you towards opportunities that suit it best. Consider including revenue and profit goals, the services you’ll be providing, the geographic service area, your organizational structure, the training environment and facility planning. What do you want your culture to feel like?
One of your goals may be to get yourself out of the “hourglass,” where all things in the business run through you. I often ask contractors why they want to grow. As the discussion continues, they usually determine that it’s because they want to be big enough where the business does not depend on them directly. These business owners want enough revenue to be able to hire office staff for the tasks they handle currently so they can have more balance in their lives. Getting bigger is often required to have people to delegate to but then this leaves the owner free to focus on leading and inspiring the team.
Communicating your vision
It takes a team to reach the summit. You can only get there with help from your key employees. Without them on board, you can’t climb the mountain.
Leading Change by John P. Kotter is a foundational book for implementation. In the book, Kotter talks about the importance of continually communicating the vision to employees in words and deeds in as many interactions as possible: formal, informal, as a group, and individually. Growth and change are impossible unless employees are willing to help, often to the point of making short-term sacrifices. Without credible communication, and a lot of it, employees’ hearts and minds are never captured. It’s not enough to read it once at a company meeting (although that’s the start). The vision must be kept top of mind and be constantly incorporated in your communications and decisions. I encourage you to keep your company visions close by and incorporate pieces of it in your weekly meetings.
Brian Nolan, left, is guiding APC Mission: Vacation winner Dustin Zupancic in creating a vision for a company about which he feels passionate.
Acting on your vision
These challenges are met only through planning, organizing and implementing that plan to make things happen. In starting the ascent to your summit, the vision, tackle one or maybe two projects at most. Continually communicate progress to the team. Explain how these projects tie into the vision. Remember, celebrate the small victories along the way to create a feeling of accomplishment in your company. The point is to make sure that your people see that their efforts are successful and that they are not wasting their time. This will keep them motivated. It will show them you are committed to walking the talk.
Plan it, do it and celebrate it. The result is a focused organization dedicated to achieving the goals and the vision you have set.
So, let’s get started. Take some time to write down what your business will look like in three years. Then, set a date to read it to your team!