So you have an idea and you think: “the perfect solution”. But why would you want to embark on solving this particular problem? There are many different reasons, as many as there are people and even though you are excited to get to solve a problem that you believe needs solving, somewhere in your mind and heart there is a reason more compelling than making money or being rich.
Vision is all about seeing a clear future, articulating your dreams and hopes for the business. It should remind you of what you want to build. With a clear and compelling vision many leaders have not only built huge companies, but also turned around failing ones. So does it work the same for Startups? The first challenge with a startup is that you don’t have a profitable and sustainable market, which means that you are still getting clear on exactly who your customer is, how it might change their lives and if they are willing to pay for it. This makes visioning a little tricky.
Very early in our journey, the partners articulated a vision or “true north” as Steve Blank defines it. We found that going through a process of understanding each of the partners’ hopes and dreams and how they view the benefit to their lives if the business is successful was a powerful first step in getting team alignment and understanding of what drove each of us. Through this process, we found synergies and could easily combine our thoughts into a company vision. In a startup I would suggest that the visioning process is treated like a journey. Use it to periodically have a discussion with each other around if the vision is going to be reached with what you know at this point in time about the problem, solution and customer, and whether the journey has changed in any way for any of the partners.
Your vision will be severely tested if you run out of money or have other challenges to face.
If I am honest, I was invited into this partnership and I really did not have a passion for the industry or product. I could, however, connect with the fact that learning how to take a venture from idea to successful was where my passions lay so I connected emotionally with it being my learning school. I also thought that a successful company would give me freedom to pursue what I am passionate about. The question is: “would this be enough?” and looking back over the last few months I can honestly say it was not.
I now wonder, why not? Having given it some thought, I think that although I was in agreement with our company vision and I felt some type of connection with it, it did not talk to my passion. So I have come to the conclusion that there is probably something to be said for starting a business in your passion area. If you can’t do that then having an overall vision of why you would like the company to succeed and then find your own passion connection in there is vital. If you cannot do that, then you will find the tough times unbearable. I also realized that vision comes to life in the people you are co-creating with and if the team does not come together in mind and spirit, the vision will not help you to keep going.
So if you are grappling with a vision for your startup, take the pressure off. Focus on getting your solution validated with a few customers and then articulate your vision as your idea takes shape and as you develop an unshakeable belief in what you are doing.