How to Use Visualisation to Achieve Your Small Business Goals
I’m currently considering purchasing a business, so I’m running through the feasibility and doing my due diligence. For me, a key part of this process is the “Begin With The End In Mind” approach – a guiding principle that I have used often throughout my business and personal life. It is a frequently cited quote from Stephen Covey’s famous book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, being Habit Number 2.
The IBM story
IBM President Thomas Watson embodied the Begin With The End In Mind principle with this story around the development of the company:
IBM is what it is today for three special reasons. The first reason is that, at the very beginning, I had a very clear picture of what the company would look like when it was finally done. You might say I had a model in my mind of what it would look like when the dream – my vision – was in place. The second reason was that once I had that picture, I then asked myself how a company which looked like that would have to act. I then created a picture of how IBM would act when it was finally done.
The third reason IBM has been so successful was that once I had a picture of how IBM would look like when the dream was in place and how such a company would have to act, I then realised that, unless we began to act that way from the very beginning, we would never get there. In other words, I realised that for IBM to become a great company it would have to act like a great company long before it ever became one.
You can see that Thomas Watson had a very clear vision of what IBM would become and he certainly had the end in mind during his reign at the helm of one of the true giants of the business world.
Begin With The End In Mind in your own business
It’s not always easy to Begin With The End In Mind. Sometimes you get so stuck in the fog and caught up with the busyness of business that it’s all you can do to just get the work in, get it done and try and get paid. Something I’ve found very useful is to not get too daunted by the scale of the task in front of you – if your entire business as a whole seems like biting off more than you can chew, then how about just starting with something small?
Perhaps try looking only at a particular department, team, process, relationship, partnership, product or service, so that it is something small enough to get your mind around. Be creative – visualise what your ideal future looks like for whatever it is you’re focussed on and ask yourself lots of questions, like How does it look, feel, touch, sound? What will the outputs be? What will the efficiencies be? How much will I save? Can I reduce human intervention? How can I automate? How do I maintain or improve quality? Where will this build income?
The more you exercise your creativity and visioning skills, the more you will develop the ability to apply this principle in other areas of your business and then to your business as a whole. Before you know it you’ll be asking yourself much bigger questions, like… How much time do I want to spend in my business? How many customers do I want? How much income do I want? How can I better serve my customers? Which customers should I stop serving? Where can I reduce my costs? Where can I jump-start my income? How can I boost my profit margin? Can I take a holiday without the business falling apart? Where can I apply some leverage? What partnerships should I be developing?
There are so many questions you can ask yourself (or a trusted adviser) and it is so important to make the time to ask them! Going through this process will stimulate your envisioning skills and help you create the future you really want for your business.
Build yourself a road map
Once you’ve envisioned the future of your business and seen how you would like it to look at the end, it’s time to come back to the beginning. You now have a start and a finish line, so fill in the gaps by building yourself a road map. Hold the vision clear in your mind and use it to map out each of the stops along your journey. Break down the whole trip into a series of smaller destinations to enable you to clearly identify and complete each step along the way to your ultimate destination – the fulfilment of the vision of your business.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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