Running your own business isn’t for the faint-hearted. From making the rent to putting food on the table, it can be tricky to not let the pressure get to you.
And it isn’t just the pressure of making the money. In addition to providing your professional services or products, you also have to be great at the ‘running the business’ stuff too. There’s always something else that needs attention: updating your website, scheduling social media, attending events, and having sales conversations. Add to all that the worries about expenses and revenue, and it’s easy to lose touch with the reason you’re in business in the first place.
You started your own business because you had an idea that you wanted to bring into reality. All of the day-to-day administration and worries can crowd out the joy and excitement of your business.
It’s important to stay connected to the passion that led you to go into business in the first place. When you focus on the vision, the smaller things won’t take over your life.
What Is Your Vision?
The value of your package to your customers is made up of five distinct elements. When you can articulate and stay connected to these elements, you will find the clarity that leads to confident decisions.
- Your WHY. Why are you in business? Merely wanting to make money shouldn’t be your primary motivation. Money won’t inspire you to keep working harder when cash is flowing in and will exacerbate your fears when times are tight.
- Your WHERE. Where are you going, and what’s your vision for your business? What does success look like to you? Do you define success in terms of impact, customers, income, lifestyle?
- Your HOW. How do you run your business, and how does it serve to reflect your values? Does your vision match your personal values? For example, if customer satisfaction or revenue growth is your top goal, do you have what it takes to push through the hard times? What if those goals come at the detriment of your health or family? Do you know when to compromise when your goals and values come into conflict, or should you re-examine your vision? What does balance look like for you?
- Your WHAT for your WHO. What is your mission? Who are your ideal customers or clients? What problem are you solving for that target market?
- Your unique talents. Combining those other four elements will give you your business purpose, goals, values, and mission. By putting all of that together, you can fully actualize what you want your business to be.
When you have your why, where, how, what and who, you become super clear on what you stand for. And this makes every business decision easier because you simply won’t be distracted by the things that are irrelevant to your vision, or which don’t support the realization of your vision.
A New Approach
Many business gurus will tell you that you need to set goals and work toward them every day. That can work for you if you’re motivated to work that way, and if you’re finding success. Yet this method can also become demotivating if you are not able to hit those goals.
Putting lots of effort and energy into something but not getting the results you want is a surefire way to feel like a failure.
Instead, try a different approach. Stay focused on your vision, your purpose, and your values. When you use these as your guiding lights, instead of goals, you reveal another path that leads to what you want. And in turn, you can approach your business in a way that’s right for you and the way you work.
By focusing more on fruitfulness, rather than productivity, you can blaze a path to success in a way that aligns with your personal style and strengths.
Changing Your Mindset
Many people set a financial goal for their primary business objective. While revenue is important, it’s not necessarily a goal that will lead to the greatest success in the long run.
What do we mean by that? Increasing revenue month after month is possible, but it can come at a cost. It might mean that you got frustrated with a client who wanted to negotiate on a price. You might turn down a good client because the income potential wasn’t there, and missed a good connection for future work. You might have lost an opportunity to learn a new skill set. And worst of all, you might take on too many clients or grow too fast for you to handle effectively.
If you focus solely on the costs side of your business, or your cash flow, you might increase your revenue—at the cost of losing out on opportunities or reduced quality and job satisfaction. And even if you achieve your financial goal, you’ll likely still find yourself worrying about the bills—because what if things aren’t as rosy next month?
Instead, we suggest a different path.
Allow yourself to be guided by your vision and your purpose. With this mindset, you might look at a client who wants to negotiate a price as an opportunity rather than a hassle. Your priorities would change, because you focused on the overall health of your business, rather than just revenue.
Even if the bills were still tight at the end of the month, you’ll be reassured by the steps you’d taken to build towards your vision, knowing your business was growing. Having a vision means you can rest easy with the tradeoffs you make along the way because you know they will lead you to something bigger in the end.
How to Stay Focused on the Vision
The secret to this approach is to remain connected to your vision and purpose at all times. Your vision and purpose can then guide every one of your business decisions.
Here are some ideas for how to stay focused:
- Create a vision board and keep it on your wall, or as the screen saver on your laptop or another device. A vision board is a collection of pictures that illustrate what you want to achieve, in your business, and in your life. It might include a mocked-up picture of your bank account statement, or you winning a business prize. It might also include pictures of the kind of lifestyle you want to be living, that your business has enabled. So go crazy, and include a picture of the mansion with the infinity pool.
- Create your vision statement as a poster and put where you can see it every day. Stop for a few moments in front of it at the start of your day and read it through. Focus on it, and know that it’s yours for the making.
- Create a mantra or affirmation that you can say everyday that connects you to your vision. This can be as simple as a hashtag, for example, #happycustomers, or #changingtheworld. Or, a longer statement, such as “In everything I do, my focus is on customer happiness”, or “I trust that I am changing the world and the world will come with me.”
- Keep a journal where you reflect on how your daily/weekly business decisions reflect on your vision. Note how day-to-day decisions reinforce and improve upon your vision. Track your progress and growth. And note areas of gratitude and success so you can focus on the positive, rather than the negative.
By choosing to stay connected to your why and your where, your purpose and your vision, your business won’t seem as difficult. The micro-aggressions and frustrations simply don’t matter anymore.
You will be free to focus on what really matters.
Why not give it a try? At this time of year, the twilight of the summer, it’s a really good time to reflect on your vision. So take a little time to reconnect with why you started your business and where you want it to go. By articulating and focusing on your vision, you’ll quickly discover that achieving your dreams feels so much more within reach.
Emily Jacob is a customer lifecycle manager at Namecheap.com, and an advocate of diversity, equality, & civil liberties around the world.