Working with successful entrepreneurs is a blast. Yet if I step back a moment and reflect on the #1 thing that most entrepreneurs fall short – it is vision. Entrepreneurs often need to expand their company vision.
Let me explain. When running a business, what is the focus of the CEO when he/she wakes up? We think about what needs to be done today. We prioritize in our mind, or on paper … these are the 5 or 10 things that we need to accomplish today.
Is there any vision for the future on that list? No. The vision for the business is typically something focused on at the early stages, and from time to time over a glass of wine. It’s more dreaming than vision. It’s a little like, “what do you want to be when you grow up” vision.
Entrepreneurs rarely set aside serious time to think … strategize … or consider a vision for the future that hasn’t been pre-determined in the past.
Example: I talked recently with a CEO who has built a nice company with a couple of retail locations. His desire is to add a couple more offices – maybe double the business. As we talked though, it became apparent to me that the real opportunity was to expand state wide and to dominate the niche in which he operates. That’s 10x growth.
Another example: When I started working with Medway Air Ambulance, Rick had a good $10-12 million business. The real opportunity was to dramatically increase that business in such a way as to dominate air ambulance for the insurance market. The problem was that the CEO was so focused on operating the day to day business that he missed the big opportunity … in part because of lack of time and vision, and also because he was working as hard as he could. Yet a little over two years later, the equity value of his business increased over 5x.
So what makes the difference?
I think there are 3 keys to increasing the vision for your company.
Key #1 – Go Beyond Yourself
Experienced third-parties often have the ability to see things that others don’t see. The vision caster should be more than just the founder/CEO because the vision of one person is by definition, limited. As someone who has advised about two hundred companies in my career, what may be obvious to a third party is often not obvious at all.
Key #2 – Consider That Your “Market” Might Be Much Bigger
Many companies define their “market” in such a way that the real opportunity is left on the table. “Market” includes not only geography, but product or service offerings. Often complementary expansions of a product or service offering would dramatically increase growth. In other instances, success in one geography could be duplicated elsewhere. In other cases, a business is doing a good business with a client, but could negotiate an exclusive agreement and double or triple volume.
Key #3 – Build a Written Plan … and Execute Daily
Most businesses in the sub-$25 million range rarely have a written strategic & financial plan. Why? For the CEO to do the plan, it takes time away from running the business … and after all running the business today is more important than crafting the plan for this year and the next two years. Or is it?
It is critical for businesses to reach their potential to set aside time for real thought & real planning. Bring people around you who have insights beyond the limited insights of a single individual, or even a team working inside the same company. It is the new insight provided by the process that can lay the groundwork for explosive growth.
Expand the vision for your company to something far greater than you may have previously imagined. Make the course correction and see if the process doesn’t result in a much more prosperous company.