Begin with the End in Mind

As Business Advisors, one of the earliest questions we ask will be something along the lines of ‘Where do you see the business in 2 years? … In 5 years?’. Often, the business owners who find it difficult to answer these questions are those who are struggling with motivation, time management, staff or a myriad of other issues.

In Steven Covey’s highly acclaimed book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, the second habit is to ‘Begin with the End in Mind’. Covey’s principle rests on the idea that all things are created twice: there’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation.

If we don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who we are and what we want in life, then we empower other people and circumstances to shape us, our lives and our businesses.

This habit is based on your imagination – envisioning in your mind something that does not currently exist. Think about the construction work that is happening all around us – while buildings may seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere, we know this is not the case – a lot of planning, design work, details and amendments occur before the buildings’ foundations can even be laid. And before any of that happens, it is an idea in someone’s head – a mental creation, a light bulb. In the same way, we can create and build successful businesses.

To begin with, the end in mind is to have a clear understanding of your own destination. The first step is to create your own destiny and develop a Personal Mission focussing on what it is that you want to be, do and achieve. Now you can consider your business.

Those business owners who have a clear vision of what they want their business to achieve, and a defined mechanism for how they are going to get there, create businesses with purpose and direction, which are best communicated through the business’ Vision and Mission Statements.

Vision Statements and Mission Statements are equally critical and serve different purposes but are often confused.

A Vision Statement sets the picture for what you want to be or become in the future – it presents an image of the ideal future success of your organisation and provides guidance and inspiration to the people who are working in the organisation. A Vision Statement defines the purpose of the organisation in terms of its values, as against bottom-line measures such as turnover and profits.

A Mission Statement describes what an organisation does to address how the vision will be achieved. The prime function of a Mission Statement is internal – to define the key measure or measures of the organisations’ success, to the leadership team and stakeholders.

The values and vision of a small business will often be intertwined with the personal values and vision of the business owner(s). It is important for these business leaders to understand what it is that makes them ‘tick’ and in which direction they wish to take their own lives. In essence, the mission of the business owner will incorporate the business as a mechanism to achieve their personal vision.

Keep in mind that Vision and Mission Statements can change over time as life happens. They should not be set in stone, and you should make appointments with yourself to review them occasionally.

From experience, I know that many people struggle to define their personal and business vision and mission statements. This is something your local Business Advisor can work through with you – it is often about taking the time out and creating the space to really consider what it is you want to achieve.

George Harrison wisely penned, in his song ‘Any Road’

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there!”