Most entrepreneurs are driven by an overriding purpose when starting their business. Successful entrepreneurs take it one step farther and develop a vision for future growth. This vision helps guide the day-to-day operations and strategic decision-making necessary to achieve success.

Before deciding what steps are necessary to move toward your business goals, you must be very clear about your desires for yourself and your business. Identifying a three-year vision can add this clarity.

Three-Year Vision

What do you dream your business could be? Your vision can help you imagine your business beyond the details of its current day-to-day activities. Don’t mistake the Three-Year Vision for those formal vision statements with lofty aspirations that are framed and prominently displaced for all to read. A common problem with that kind of vision is that it often expresses nebulous and unattainable ideals. The Three-Year Vision is intended to be one that will help you visualize specific things you would like to realize within a three-year time frame.

To identify your three-year vision, focus on the future. Don’t forget to consider changes in the global marketplace, the Internet, and technology. And remember, a vision does not have to be grounded in today’s reality. It is a goal to strive for, not a reflection of a business’s current position.

While your mission statement summarizes the business’s purpose, a vision paints a picture of what the future could look like. Consider the example on the following page of what one entrepreneur dreamed his business looked like three years into the future. Use this example to get ideas when you create your own vision.

Closing the Gap

Moving a business from the present to its vision requires a gap analysis. This process will help you identify the difference between the two and determine what changes in your business will close the gap and help you achieve your vision.

For example, if a business has recently seen its sales stagnate and its vision is to increase its profits, the entrepreneur could use a gap analysis to examine why the sales are flat, determine the best way to improve sales, and pay attention to ways to increase profitability, even if sales do not grow.

Another entrepreneur’s vision may include increased production for her manufacturing business. Since her current space and equipment are already at full capacity, she could bridge the gap by identifying the steps needed to increase production, including new space, additional equipment, employees, and the funds to accomplish these goals.

The next step is to set your goals for your business, including some that you would like to accomplish during this program.

Setting Goals

With an eye toward their vision, entrepreneurs set goals for the organization, themselves, and their employees. Then they measure the results and hold people accountable, including themselves.

It is not enough to set goals. You must diligently work toward them and follow-up by measuring your results and making improvements. One of the most important things you can do is to define your business’s most critical goals then develop measurable targets, determine the gaps between desired and actual performance, and implement a strategy to close the gaps.

Goals for your business should be SMART:

  • Specific – Clearly defined by those who have the
    knowledge about their impact
  • Measurable – Quantifiably defined in such a way as to
    gauge progress
  • Achievable – Challenging and rewarding, but still
    within reach
  • Relevant – Tied to current critical tasks and abilities of the team
  • Time-based – Linked to an agreed-upon timeline

You will increase your odds of accomplishing your goals if you write them down. You’ll find that using the SMART guidelines will help improve your goals setting skills.

EXAMPLE

OriginalBecome a leader in the computer headphone/microphone industry, excelling in meeting customer requirements and providing the highest quality products.

RewrittenWithin two years, achieve 40 percent market share in the computer headphone/microphone industry, receive the J.D. Power highest quality rating in the industry, and receive 95 percent or above good or excellent ratings on our customer-service surveys.

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Contributors:
  • FastTrac Kauffman Foundation