Are Your Sights Set on Target?

Dart in the center of a target

Business Leadership Requires Focus on the Right Target

In 1942 John H. Johnson started a modest publishing company with $500. That’s the equivalent of $7,630 today. Before he died Johnson was named one of Forbes top 400 wealthiest Americans. Most of the small businesses I work with started out with more than Johnson did but have yet to achieve that level of success. The difference is in their vision.

When I ask a prospective client about there goals, it is usually something like “to achieve $x,xxx,xxx in revenue” or “to gain XX% of market share”. Contrast that to Johnson Publishing’s goal to “…chronicle African-American life1”. You may not have heard of John Johnson but I bet you probably heard of his publications, Ebony and Jet magazines.

This phenomenon is not unusual. In James Collins seminal books, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t2 and Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies3, Collins postulates that one requirement to have an incredibly successful company is to have a vision that is bigger than you are.

A unifying vision is the glue that makes the team. It becomes an integral part of everything you do as a business. Your marketing, interviewing, hiring, sales process, customer service, operations all become centered around that vision. Even counseling and other HR functions. For example, while at Priority Moving our vision was to reduce stress. This permeated everything we did, our sales process set the right expectation, our customer service folks called and confirmed multiple times, our movers were trained on how we wanted the move to go, every aspect of our operation was designed to improve the customer’s experience by alleviating the stress of moving. When we hired employees we tested them to ensure that this would be a priority for them. If our goal was to achieve $10,000,000 in gross revenue and a salesperson lied to a client how that talk would go:

You: Why did you lie to the client?
Salesperson: We wanted to hit $10,000,000 this year and the added revenue would help!

Versus our goal to relieve stress

You: Why did you lie to the client?
Salesperson: We wanted to hit $10,000,000 this year and the added revenue would help!
You: Yes but by doing so you increased the client’s stress level instead of reducing it.

As you can see, having a clearer vision completely changes the dynamics.

How to Determine Your Business Vision

It is not easy to determine the right vision for yourself. It takes a great deal of introspection and retrospection. You can begin by asking yourself

1. If I could be doing anything in the world right now, what would it be?
2. Why do I want to do that?
3. If I writing my own eulogy, what would I want it to say?
4. What do I want to accomplish by having this business?
5. How could my business make a lasting impression?

Once you truly understand why you are in business everything else falls into place. There are no wrong answers but the more your answer touches the hearts of others the more powerful and ultimately successful your business will become.

2 Collins, James C. New York, NY: Harper Business, 2001
3 Collins, James C., and Jerry I. Porras. . N.p.: n.p., n.d.


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