Peeling the Onion: Create a Clear Vision for Your Business and Yourself
An entrepreneur is someone who is driven relentlessly by a razor sharp vision.
Or this is what all the motivational speakers and inspiring memes tell us. If you are an entrepreneur, it means you are propelled forward by a powerful internal force… by a passion, a desire to build, a crystal clear image of a world transformed by your work.
Listen. I’ve worked with a lot of entrepreneurs, and many of them don’t have that clarity of vision. They are stumbling towards a vague idea of success, and the feeling their work inspires isn’t exactly a passion as much as it is a sort of fair-weather enthusiasm… one that only shows up on the good days.
Unfortunately, that’s no way to build a business. It's true: long-term success does require a strong vision. You also need the passion to follow through on that vision, no matter what heartaches and obstacles arise.
If you’re missing those two things—vision and passion—don’t panic. There is hope. I know this because you own a business. You don’t take on a project that big without a deep, internal desire for something else. Something somewhere within you is reaching for that greater purpose. You don’t have to worry about inventing a vision. It’s already there.
You just have to uncover it.
This means peeling back the metaphorical onion, removing the layers of influence that obscure your vision.
Here’s what I mean.
Envision the Life YOU Want
What do you want? When you imagine your ideal future, what do you see?
When I ask new business owners these questions, I often get answers that are clearly not their own.
They’re focused on roofing only because someone told them full-service restoration would be too much take on. Or they’re entering the outdoor industry because it’s really booming right now. Or they’re building their entire vision around the goal of earning as much as they can as quickly as they can because their parents won’t stop talking about how well their friends' kids are doing.
We are constantly taking in information about what others think we should want—about what’s cool or responsible or gives us "worth." Over time, we absorb these values as if they were our own. The line blurs between what we actually want and what we want to want.
The problem is, you can never truly rally behind a vision that isn’t rooted in your passion and desires.
Take some time to reflect on the question: “What do you want?” Notice if the answer doesn’t come with any real feeling of desire. Ask yourself why you want what you want. When you see how you’ve been influenced by someone or something outside yourself, imagine taking that goal out of your larger vision. How do you feel then? Are you more or less excited about what the future might hold for you?
It may take time to peel back the layers and find the vision that really drives you. Clarity is often a process.
Once you feel like you’re getting closer to designing a future based on what you want, move on to the next layer:
Claim the Entire Dream
Another troubling thing I see among entrepreneurs?
They’re embarrassed to tell me what they want.
Or they hold back. They say they just want to have enough money to send their kids to a decent school or take nice vacations with their family.
Now, I understand where this comes from. I’ve been there, too. We all struggle with deeply instilled beliefs about what we deserve. You probably have these beliefs, too, even if you’re not aware of them. Maybe you grew up in a community where wealthy people were seen as greedy or corrupt. Perhaps your parents taught you to keep your expectations low because they didn’t want you to face disappointment.
So take a moment to ask yourself if what you’d want for your future if you truly believed you were limitless. (You are, by the way.) Dream your wildest dream. Practice saying it out loud. Don’t apologize for it.
Normalize big ambition.
Identify Your Strength and Passion
Once you have the big, bold vision for your future, it’s time to imagine how you’re going to get there.
This is when you ask yourself two big questions;
- What am I really, really good at?
- What type of work am I passionate about?
These questions help you narrow down your company’s mission in the wider community. Put another way, this is how to determine what sets your business apart.
Let’s say you’re a plumber. You’re good at plumbing, yes, but you’re also really great at teaching new skills and you’re passionate about self-sufficiency.
Guess what? You’re going to be the plumber who empowers property owners. You take the time to explain what’s going on and you give advice for how your clients can take better care of their pipes in the future.
With this vision in mind, you're going to gradually build a team that can handle the day-to-day so you can dedicate more time to your unique abilities. You might design your long-term business vision to include a YouTube channel with plumbing tips. You might use your skills for educating and empowering to become a better resource for referral partners.
Now, let’s look at the final layer.
Define Your Role in the World
This is where you find the intersection of your passion and your client’s needs.
If you’re still hung up on that first layer—if you’re still feeling like following your own desires is a little too selfish or short-sighted—this is where I ask you to look at this another way.
Every talent serves a purpose. There is no such thing as a frivolous strength or a self-serving passion. To some degree, you are already aware of this. If you’re married, you and your spouse have probably already fallen into routines that reflect your individual skill sets. You naturally pick up the roles you excel at or enjoy, and each day runs a little smoother because of it.
The same is true in your career. You can only accomplish so much by chasing what’s “smart” or “lucrative.” On the other hand, if you lean into your strengths by identifying where you strengths are needed most, you are going to excel.
You are going to become known as the plumber who empowers clients to be good homeowners… the plumber who explains instead of talking down, who takes time instead of rushing, who is there to solve a problem and not to write an invoice.
You are going to get great reviews, tons of referrals, and a lot of money.
You are going to discover that when you peel back the layers, that Big Dream is not only clear as day; it’s also completely within reach.
So… what do you really want?
Further Resources on This Topic:
Free Tool: Business Plan Tool