You face important decisions about the direction of your practice on a daily basis. They can be about anything, from technology and staffing to product choices and marketing. Consistently making the right call can be difficult if you don’t know what you want your practice to look like in five years. That’s why great practitioners create compelling vision statements for their businesses.
What is a vision statement? #
A vision statement is a short description of how you see your practice on a typical day five years in the future. It portrays the scope of your company. It describes, not the culture you necessarily have today, but the one you aspire to build. As such, it influences team behavior. It lays out how staff, partners, and clients interact with your firm and the type of experience they will have.
Why a vision statement matters #
The further you can stretch your thinking, the more effective your decision-making will be today. For example, if you were able to define when and how you want to transition out of your practice, you would be able to start making choices today to make that dream become a reality—like bringing in junior partners or creating systems that will add value to your book of business.
Creating a five-year vision statement for your practice sets a target for you and your staff to aim for. That target becomes the foundation of your business plan. It guides you in identifying your key priorities and the strategies necessary to achieve them.
When you and your staff clearly know where you want to go, you will make better decisions daily. Each potential course of action can be evaluated in terms of whether it will get you closer to achieving your vision.
At its best, a great vision inspires. It is a beacon guiding you on your journey and although market conditions, regulations, people, and technology may change along the way, the target does not. It provides surety and consistency in a changing business landscape.
Review your SWOT analysis #
Before sitting down to work on your vision, take the time to review the SWOT analysis of your practice. Consider the strengths and weaknesses you have today and look for ways to emphasize the good and mitigate the bad. Most importantly, make sure to capitalize on the opportunities you think lie in the future and inoculate your practice against potential threats.
How to create your vision statement #
To create your vision statement, gather your staff and look five years into the future of your practice. Imagine it on a typical day in that year. Describe what you see, how it feels, and what is happening.
Consider issues such as:
- Niche/Market—who do you want to work with, do you want to expand into new markets or industries, where would the natural growth of your current business take you?
- Marketing—how do you attract great prospects?
- Products and services—what do you sell?
- Unique value proposition/competitive advantage—what sets you apart from your competition?
- Technology—how could you use technology to gain an advantage over your competitors?
- Staff and partners—who do you work with? How are the relationships structured (full-time, outsourced, vendor/partners?)
- Culture—what would you compare the office environment to (mission control, a library, a party?)
Don’t waste time on small ideas #
Thinking big doesn’t necessarily mean building a big company with a lot of people and thousands of clients. It means stretching what you imagine to be possible. Big can mean different things for different advisors. For one it may mean creating the most innovative, technology-driven practice in their market. For others, it may mean redefining customer service and client experiences. For some, it can mean taking digital marketing to a whole new level.
Make your vision inclusive and compelling #
Make your vision aspirational and inspirational. It must be compelling, and emotional—a dream you and your staff can aspire to, an ideal people want to follow. Your vision should be an expression of your best self.
When crafting your vision statement, solicit input from your staff. They’ll feel more ownership of the future if they have a hand in deciding what it should be. When your vision is built together with staff and partners, you all share a common view of where the practice is heading and how to get there. This breeds staff autonomy and responsibility—meaning they will be more willing to take the initiative.
Wrap up #
Creating a compelling five-year vision statement for your practice sets the foundation for the business you will build. It inspires staff, informs partners, and makes decision-making easy. Following a big vision can drive your practice to new heights in the years to come.