I love absolute statements. And this is one of my favorites. You’re at the ignition stage of your newest business venture. Of course, you have a vision for what you will do to change the world. Let’s stress test that vision and sharpen it further to help insure your success.
First, if your vision is limited and you will be happy with a successful local dry cleaning enterprise or small restaurant around the corner, you are not the target for this effort to help entrepreneurs build great businesses that change the world. (Please take what you can from these weekly posts. Many will apply directly to you.)
For the rest of you who want to change the world, let me repeat: vision is everything. A great vision for a new enterprise drives innovation. It serves as the rallying cry for future employees, investors, customers and suppliers. It sharpens the understanding for those new to the enterprise and moves them to follow and even to become unpaid advocates for the business.
Think of some of the great visions from the past that did change the world. “Absolutely, positively overnight” made FedEx an indispensable name in supply chain management. “A computer on every desk” made Microsoft a partner in the growth of most every business. You can think of many more, visions expressed so clearly that the enterprise became critical to your own success.
There are other, less dramatic ways to express a vision. “Be the largest supplier of laser toner in North America,” or “Make dining into a five-star experience.”
Years ago, as a panelist at an entrepreneurial seminar, I watched as over fifty aspiring young entrepreneurs filed past a microphone, each tasked with making a thirty second pitch to the panelists of professional investors. About halfway through this painful exercise, one man walked up to the microphone and said, simply, “We move oil through the Internet” and then he moved on. Immediately after the panel presentation, I found that one entrepreneur and began a conversation that led to my investing $100,000 in his vision of a supply chain enterprise based upon perfect knowledge of oil delivery systems, precise timing of delivery and coordination of resources to move oil from source to customer using the Internet as a frictionless tool for communication and coordination.
Although that business ultimately failed, I remained in contact with that entrepreneur as he used his experience in a new field, better off because of his learning experience. I carry no rancor as a result of the loss, since I bought into the vision, helped as I could with the execution, and came to the realization along with the entrepreneurial team that the number of uncontrollable elements far exceeded those which could be controlled by any third party at that stage of development of the Internet.
Express your vision in just a few words—so that others will remember them and remember you, and hope that they get behind your excitement and singular focus for success.