Every aspiring entrepreneur maintains a vision of what professional success looks and feels like for them. However, as tangible as it may be in mind, transforming that concept into reality presents challenges. “Essentially a vision is long term, or a fast-forward look at where you want to be,â€ says Dee Marshall, life coach and founder of Raise The Bar, a Newark, New Jersey-based coaching and consulting practice.
“In order to make the vision a reality you have to begin with organizing your thoughts,â€ Marshall says. She recommends utilizing a vision board–images, pictures and affirmations of your dreams and desires compiled in a central location such as on a poster board or in a book–to help organize your thoughts into a visual concept. With pictures, words, and even actual objects, goals such as those you may have you’re your business can be literally brought to life. But what do you do after you’ve created the vision board and are ready to put action towards those aspirations?
Here, Marshall offers six ways to get your business off the ground:
Put it on paper. Create a one page outline that includes a mission statement, vision statement and objectives. “If you can’t come up with a one-pager, then it could be an indication you are not ready for entrepreneurship,â€ warns Marshall. But even that shouldn’t deter you, because it is common to have difficulty writing down objectives and goals initially. It can also be a driving force when obtaining goals becomes challenging.
Apply SMART guidelines.
Specific: Vagueness leaves room for error. Being as precise as possible limits the chances of confusion in implementing your goals and objectives.
Measurable: Pursue goals that will offer you the ability to, at any point in the process, evaluate your effectiveness in actualizing them successfully.
Action-oriented: Shape your objectives around actions that will bring you closer to fulfilling your vision.
Results driven: Goals and objectives you focus on should provide concrete tangible outcomes.
Time bound: Attach and stick to a realistic deadline.
Build an interpersonal team. Identify a small group committed to your success. This team should be comprised of trustworthy individuals whose opinion you value. The team will serve as an unofficial advisory board to give you honest feedback about your business concept.
Get exposure. Taking on a project pro-bono or for a small fee that allows you to get a feel for what you want to do, is a great way to gain experience if you are not already working in the space. “People are either going to come out saying ‘I really enjoyed that and I cant wait to launch my business’ or they’re going to get a real perspective and decide that its not something theyÂ want to do as a business,â€ Marshall says. “Either way it is an excellent learning opportunity.â€
Plan. Plan. Plan. A business plan is critical for any entrepreneur. “Once you have determined what you want to do and are serious about it, you have to develop a concrete business plan before moving forward,â€ says Marshall. After writing your business plan, develop a tactical/action plan that outlines every step that needs to take place to reach your goals. Once the business is off the ground continue to do annual plans, with quarterly objectives and strategies to obtain those objectives. By doing annual plans an entrepreneur is able to compare progress with the initial vision.
Consult a professional. Contact the Small Business Administration office in your region. The SBA can provide assistance with developing and implementing your business plan, marketing strategies, securing capital for your business and direct you to organizations that offer mentor services for beginning entrepreneurs.
For more information on how vision boards can help you, check out Peak Performance: The Power and Purpose Behind Developing a Vision Board in the August 2009 issue of Black Enterprise Magazine.