When I was in high school I read, “7 Habits of Highly Successful People.” I come back to the principles proposed in this book again and again. One of the most powerful habits is, “Begin with the end in mind.” As it pertains to small business growth, an application of this is creating a vision for your business.

I’ve created at least four visions over the course of fourteen years. I did this mostly because it’s considered a “best practice.” None of these ended being much more than a thought exercise. Because of these experiences, I considered visions to be stock advice that people bandied about with little link to actual impact.

However, I reconsidered the importance of having a vision last fall when I was setting employee goals. We had shifted gears to work on a six week cycle of objective setting. It took me a couple of days to plan, delegate, and communicate these objectives.

After I did this a couple of times, I thought, “Wow, I’m going to be spending two days every six weeks planning and delegating.” Besides the time used, I realized I was training the team to look to me for what strategic goals they should take on.

What I wanted instead was for people to think about how to move the business forward and take action on it. I wanted to build employee initiative and competence in making decisions. However, they had no context to use to when choosing. That’s when I realized that we needed a vision.

Visions enable agency within a team. They provide a map to where you’re going and how you want to get there. They’re critical because they establish a foundation for team members to contribute. A good vision will open up capacity by decentralizing choices, improving decision-making skill across the team, and drawing the best out of people.

I invested a couple of weeks into developing a strong vision and communicating it to the team. We’re just a couple of months into working from this vision, but I’ve already cut my planning time down to less than half a day and employees are beginning to propose solutions and pull in opportunities that align with our vision. It’s a much higher leverage use of our team and it all came about by just beginning with the end in mind.

Featured image Eye of Horus By Jeff Dahl – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3224752