Apr 182011


Make Sure You Have a Big Vision!

In my personal experience and observation in over 30 years in entrepreneurship (I started young :-)), if you want to achieve great things, you MUST have a big vision! Why? Well, let’s look at some examples to gain a better understanding.

Let’s say you want to start up, or you already have, a retailer of electronics, software and books. It doesn’t matter if it’s online, bricks-and-mortar, or both. You decide that your company vision will be as follows: “Our vision is to be the best provider of electronics, software and books on the planet”. That’s an interesting vision, agreed, but how does it compare to: “Our vision is to be the earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can find and discover anything they might want to buy online”?

The latter version in the example above is Amazon.com’s vision statement. We can observe a similarity and a couple of key differences between the first version and Amazon’s. They are similar in that they both refer to the whole world – “on the planet” and “earth’s”. That’s good! That’s thinking big! They are different in that the first one refers to being the “best provider” of electronics … this language is quite generic and doesn’t evoke a call to action. Amazon’s, on the other hand, talks about being the “most customer-centric company” – this gives one a sense of mission, and it’s specific enough to put the customer right at the center of the action. It’s something you can rally around. You can get behind this and feel like it gets to not just the vision of the company, but its mission as well.

Another difference is that Amazon’s vision statement does not limit the company to providing just a few items. It talks about building a place where customers “can find and discover anything they might want”. If you remember when Amazon started, they were really mainly known as an online provider of books; however, they have now expanded to all kinds of stuff for sale, new and used. Although they started with books, this was likely their vision from the very beginning. They did not want to limit themselves to just books.

Here is another corporate vision statement to further reinforce these points. Avon Products’ vision statement is “To be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service and self-fulfillment needs of women, globally.” Notice again how Avon does not limit itself to a small geography, nor does it limit itself to a few products. It doesn’t even mention specific products, rather it focuses on understanding and satisfying certain needs of one half of the people on the planet – women! That’s a grand vision! That’s something worthy of a great company! That’s something that can motivate and inspire all people associated with Avon for a very, very long time!

When you are crafting your company vision statement or your personal vision statement, a step you should absolutely take, think BIG. Don’t limit yourself! Create a vision that touches you emotionally, that motivates you, that when read, will inspire you and others to accomplish great things. Remember, a fish in a small fish bowl can never become larger than that fish bowl. Don’t artificially and unnecessarily limit yourself to a small “fish bowl”.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions on the topic of creating a vision and vision statement.

Paul Morin

  • I totally agree. You must have a big vision and keep it live and bright.

    But the big challenge is taking a big vision and knowing where to start. You can’t get there in one step, so it’s about sequence. Since it’s about sequence, my advice is to start with a very small focus, nail it and grow from there.

    I love focus! And vision too!

  • You bring up an excellent point!! Even though you always want to have a “big vision,” you must then focus on something achievable to get started. Set up a series of incremental achievements that will give you confidence and credibility in your quest to achieve your big vision. Thanks for your comment!

  • amy

    I don’t really want to have everything say they will be the best if they can not back it up. Its nice to think big as long as you are focused on making your company follow that belief doing everything you can to reach that goal. Not every company can make such grand claims because some companies are super specific and only have a few items to sell.

  • By suggesting that you have a “big vision,” I’m not encouraging you to try to be all things to all people — that is a recipe for failure, particularly for a small company. What I’m saying is that you should have a big enough and exciting enough vision that it provides you with motivation and it allows you to differentiate what you “stand for” in the marketplace. It should help you move from being just another company trying to solve some relatively minor issue, to a small, yet different company with big plans and ambitions. This approach tends to have a magnetic effect, attracting not just customers, but also quality partners, employees and other high quality key constituencies.

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