Have you set your vision and goals for 2016 yet?
No? Good…I’ve caught you at the right time.
I rarely recommend starting with vision and goals when looking to the future. It’s just that certain other basics are important to cover first. Otherwise it’s all too easy to chase shiny objects and get involved with busywork that doesn’t actually build your business. When you get clear on the 4 building blocks below, your vision and goals will emerge naturally and with little effort.
1. Strengths. What is your “low-hanging fruit”? You know, the things you and your business are already good at, and can improve with little effort? Of course you’ll want to note weaker areas – but focusing too much time and energy on them is usually a waste. Focus on your strengths and use these to offset your weaknesses, or delegate your weaker areas to others. One of my favourite resources on leadership strengths is Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie.
2. Values. What underlying principles are non-negotiable to your business? Things like Creativity, Competence, Respect, and Helpfulness? Most owners need to get clearer about their values, communicate them more consistently, and incorporate them into daily life. Values are intangible and hard to identify. But they’re like flooring: foundational to the design of the whole room.
3. Purpose. So…why did you start this business again? You don’t need a two-day retreat to determine your purpose. Ask yourself and your team a simple question: “At the end of the day, what difference are we trying to make in the world?” Record whatever ideas come up when you ask the question. Then delete the responses that have to do with money. Highly successful companies have an overarching purpose that’s about more than making a profit. Here is an excellent Forbes article, and a TED talk on this topic.
4. Mission. Now that you’ve figured out why…take a look at what & how. What exactly do you do, for whom, and how do you do it differently from others?
Since Values, Purpose, and Mission comprise the core of your organization, they should hold fairly steady from year to year. But reviewing them regularly and assessing how well you’re living them out is one of those “important but not urgent” keys to strengthening your business. Do this before setting goals, and you can be assured your actions will actually build your business.