Fortune 500 companies, non-profits and other “serious” businesses have them. Should your freelancing business have one too?
A vision, that is.
A vision is simply a statement (several paragraphs, actually) of where you’d like your business to be in the next x number of years.
Apparently, a vision is really good for any business, including yours.
The Benefits of Having a Vision
A vision helps you plan ahead. It provides a compass with which you can direct your freelancing business. Without a vision, you wouldn’t have anything to guide you in making decisions. Outside events and influences would toss your freelancing business this way and that.
A vision can also keep you motivated and committed to achieve your goals. The prospect of achieving the vision you’ve painted for your business will energize you and keep you moving through challenges and setbacks.
Have you noticed how people always say this line with admiration: “He’s a man of vision.” We heard that a lot about Steve Jobs. People meant, not that he could foresee the future, but he knew what future he wanted — not just for his business but for his customers and the rest of the world.
In short, a vision will help you have a successful freelancing business. And we all want that, don’t we?
How to Create a Vision for Your Freelancing Business
Formulating your vision is really a lot of fun. In fact, it doesn’t feel like work at all. You need some free, undisturbed time, a notebook and pen or computer to capture your thoughts, and your imagination.
Now, daydream. Close your eyes and imagine your IDEAL freelancing business a specific number of years from today.
It’s up to you how far ahead you want to dream. I think 5 years is pretty manageable. (You could create a vision for much farther than that, but being the age I am, looking ahead to 15 years only conjures images of retirement.)
Now give yourself permission to be completely impractical and unrealistic for the rest of the exercise.
Imagine what your freelancing business looks like 5 years from now, if it were absolutely PERFECT:
- What are you doing?
- How do you do it?
- Who are your clients?
- How much income are you making?
- Who are your business partners and collaborators?
- Where do you work?
- What is your lifestyle?
- What words describe your business?
- What are your indicators for success?
- What are you famous for?
- How do you promote and market your business?
Be as creative as you want to be. Set yourself free and dream. Nobody’s going to slap your hands if you think of something that could never happen in a million years. This is a visioning exercise, not a goal-setting one.
Take notes, and when you feel you have dreamed up a complete scenario for your freelancing life 5 years from now, type out your ideal freelancing business. By the way, when you do this, write in the present tense, as if the future is already now. Don’t say, “I will be….” Instead, write “I am ….”
Refine as you go along.
Your business vision is not set in stone. Set it aside at least overnight. And then go back, read it, and refine as you see fit.
And then… you need to edit your vision while wearing the lenses of reality. Don’t destroy your original outlandish vision, because that has its own value (Often, these things eventually do become reality. Uncanny but true).
Make a different, more realistic version of your vision. Whittle it down to an ideal that’s more realistic for you to achieve. I don’t want you to look at your vision 5 years from now and feel like a total failure, just because you created an unrealistic, implausible vision.
By now you have two versions of your vision: the unrealistic one, and the achievable one. Keep the unrealistic one in a drawer. You can read that every day, if you like, if that inspires you (that would depress me, however).
Take the achievable one and use it as one of your business documents.
How To Use Your Business Vision
Use that vision as the starting point for planning for the next 5 years, then for the year ahead. Go backwards. Beginning with your vision, what do you need to do and accomplish for that vision to become a reality?
Whenever you’re faced with making a tough decision, use your vision to help guide you. Sometimes you have to choose between two seemingly equally good options. Your vision may make your decision easier.
Finally, don’t be afraid to regularly review and revise your vision. Do this at least once a year. Maybe you’ll find you’re moving faster or slower than you thought you would. Or maybe what is important to you now won’t be as essential 12 months from now.
A business vision is one of your tools. It’s not your master.
What’s Your Vision?
Do you have a vision for your freelancing business? If so, how have you been using it? If not, what do you need to be able to craft and use one?
Let us know in the comments below.