The one thing I ask first when visualizing business models and strategy is; “What is your Vision?” Why I ask this? Because I think that Vision is a very important part of your business. It guides you, it keeps everyone on the same road and it helps you make decisions and pivots. While in the uncertain life of a startup most things aren’t clear yet, Vision is what holds everything together. It is also a very abstract concept however, and difficult to actually formulate.
Why do we need a vision anyway?
A vision is the signpost of your roadmap. It influences strategic decisions, it helps you decide in which way to pivot, or which customer segment to choose when you are in early startup fase. It will help you unify and make strategic decisions when you start growing and it will help you set goals and tell the story when you start scaling. It will probably evolve through al those stages just as your company will, but it is the one thing that will remain more or less the same throughout all the surrounding turmoil.
A vision is difficult to formulate, while it starts out as a strong passion or pain in the head of the founder or founders, it grows and evolves into a something more clear that will keep your new employees and additions to the team see where you are going and why. Often a vision is mixed up with goals. But where a Goal is set in the near future, influences your daily activities and is something that you actually want to achieve as soon as possible. A vision is a longterm reason for why you are doing what you are doing and influences strategic decisions.
How do I formulate my vision?
It is not always easy to formulate your vision. And although it helps to have a beautifully formulated great oneliner of a vision. It is not something you have to go for right away. As I said, your vision will probably slowly evolve over time and you will have time to polish up a great oneliner over time. But it is important to have it clear to you and your founders from the beginning. How to get that passionate idea that started out your company out of your head and onto paper?
I made a visual framework to help you do that.
Ask yourself; ‘what was the passion ( or pain) that I started on, that made me want to start this startup?’ Then go on and ask; ‘What is is that you actually do, and how you are doing it’, from those answers go on to ask ‘why?’ If the answer is world domination, take one step back. If the answer is nowhere near world domination ask ‘why?’ again. Take time and only write words if sentences do not come. Now from the ‘passion’ and the ‘why’ you should be able to formulate a vision (or crude version of a vision) to help you and your team to reach the mountain of succes.
Get a bigger printable version here
Neelie Smit Kroes called out on twitter recently “Calling all millennials! Sign our #startupmanifesto”. I think we should and not just the millennials amongst us. The more people sign it, support it and the measures proposed, the more likely actual actions will be undertaken to make sure the manifest will become more than just that.
Since hierarchy in both companies and especially for entrepreneurs is becoming something of the past, networks and communities are more and more important to spark innovation and creativity. Inclusiveness is something we need to focus on to welcome and keep people in the network since we need people helping and supporting eachother to excell in what we do best. This video visualization highlights some of the things that are important to a thriving startup community.