When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At one point or another along the way, I wanted to be an astronaut, a marine biologist, and ultimately an artist.
Since way back in middle school, art has been a big part of my vision.
It’s what led me to…
Back at 18 years old, I definitely couldn’t have planned for my career to take the twists and turns that it did.
But at the core of every decision I made was a VISION.
My vision was simple: to make the world a more beautiful place and prove to myself and others that following a creative career path was POSSIBLE.
I thought I would make the world more beautiful with my designs. But instead, I find myself making the world more beautiful in a way I could never have anticipated: I help other creatives build creative businesses they love as a business coach and an outsourced COO.
It’s kind of like a big kid version of, “what do you wanna BE when you grow up?”
Setting a vision ensures that every decision you make is rooted in your values, the impact you want to create, the lifestyle you want to live, who and how you want to serve, and the work that lights you up most; even if you don’t know exactly how you’ll get there.
I like to think of the overarching business vision as the “Big Vision” you have for your business. Your Big Vision is a clear image of what you want your business to look and feel like in the future. It is rooted in your personal goals and aspirations. Having a clear vision can help you stay on track when making decisions for yourself and your business so that every action moves you in the right direction.
It’s less about what you specifically want to DO and more about what you want to BE.
What you DO is your mission (more on that later). It’s rooted in purpose and why the company exists! While I love implementing, doing, and getting shit done, there’s a time and a place for both DOING and BEING.
COO Tip: Creating a physical or digital VISION BOARD can be a helpful tool while developing your business’s vision. You can collect images, words, and symbols representing your big-picture goals. These can be cut and pasted to an actual poster, or you can use a digital tool like Canva to compile your vision board on the computer! I love this option because you can save it as the background of your phone or your computer screen saver as a daily reminder to keep your vision front and center!
Every business needs a Big Vision, no matter how big or small you may be right now!
But the approach I’m going to walk you through here is tailored to solopreneurs and freelancers like you. Because whether you’re a freelancer, a solopreneur, or the leader of a small team or studio, your business vision is PERSONAL. It’s about building a business that supports the life YOU want to live, not the other way around.
Corporate businesses need to set a vision too. While the goals and benefits of developing a vision are the same for corporate companies as they are for small businesses, the approach and process will, at its core, be intrinsically different.
A CORPORATE vision wouldn’t be able to care about your PERSONAL definition of success or your deeper why. A corporate vision would consider what all stakeholders or a board of directors want and value. Conversely, as a small business owner your PERSONAL values, goals, and desires are more intertwined with the direction of your business.
Even as your goals, ambitions, and priorities shift, your Big Vision can serve as a north star, steadily guiding the way through these changes.
COO Tip: You may be establishing your vision for the first time ever, or maybe you’re revisiting your vision for the 3rd or 10th time! Be sure to bookmark this blog post so you can easily reference it again in the future!
I’ve developed this blog as a vision-setting resource you can return to anytime you need. It offers some of my best tried and true tips for establishing your vision on YOUR terms in a way that aligns with your values, goals, lifestyle, strengths, and ambitions. Let’s dive into four helpful tips you need to confidently set your business vision!
The very first step to setting your vision is all about looking at the big picture.
I encourage you to really take some time to daydream about this. Maybe for you, that involves journaling, visualizing, talking it out with a trusted friend, or even creating a vision board.
This isn’t the time to worry about the nitty-gritty details or HOW you will achieve those big goals (there’s plenty of time for that later).
Instead, take a step back and think about where you are now and where you want to go. In future steps, you can map out a plan to get there and increase your likelihood of success.
Envision how you want your business to:
Consider things like where your business fits into the marketplace and how you as a brand are positioned in the industry. Go even further and consider how your business will fit into your life (instead of planning it the other way around).
Especially early on, it can be all too easy to get caught up in doing things the way everyone else is doing them. The business side of things may not feel like your comfort zone, so you look outside of yourself for a guide to show you exactly how to build a business. And while these business coaches, fellow entrepreneurs, and “gurus” may share what has worked for THEM, it may or may not be what works for YOU.
And that’s totally okay!
While it is helpful to look to others for inspiration and learn from their experiences, no two businesses or entrepreneurs are the same!
When you follow someone else’s blueprint, what often happens is you wake up one day with THEIR dream business, not your own!
Instead, start by dreaming big, looking at the big picture, and listening to your own inner wisdom. This will help you align your goals with your priorities, so you can do things YOUR way.
You are, after all, the BOSS (believe it or not!).
So, how can you avoid getting sucked into all the SHOULDS floating around in the online business space?
Don’t take any business advice at face value (even mine!). Dig deeper and continually ask, “why?”
If and when you implement things in your business, do regular pulse checks. Ask yourself what feels right and what doesn’t.
Are the strategies, tasks, and tools you’re using in your business in alignment with how you want your business to look, feel, and work in the future?
Allow yourself to let go of things that aren’t serving you and double down on the things that work well even if it doesn’t seem like the quote-un-quote “correct” way to do things (be an innovator)!
Success means something different to each person. But all too often, we default to defining success as simply monetary.
Question your assumptions about what success should look like so that you can focus on outcomes that really mean the most to you.
This will help you hone that big picture thinking you just did, bring everything into focus, and move that vision from general to more granular.
While financial goals are absolutely valid and might be a significant driver behind the work you do (after all, we all need to pay the bills!), it’s essential to acknowledge that success comes in many shapes and sizes.
Think about what truly matters most to YOU:
→ Something else?
Most likely, you’ll find that your version of success includes a combination of these factors. You probably value some more than others. Plus, over time, what you value and how much you value them will shift. Getting clear on what success means to you at every season of life and business will help you prioritize them correctly.
Identifying WHAT you value is just the tip of the iceberg!
Now it’s time to dig deep so you can uncover not only what success means to you but WHY it is so important. It’s about digging into your true motivations.
Your WHY is entirely personal and is what will keep you going and sustain you through those inevitably challenging moments in business.
For example: If you value freedom and that is how you define success, explore WHY and go beyond the superficial.
Is it because freedom allows you to:
Finally, ask yourself: Why is it important to me to be successful? Try to peel back the layers like an onion, going deeper and deeper each time (7 times tends to be the magic number!) This will help you get past the surface-level reasons so you can identify the core of what success means to you.
“It is important to me to be successful because success to me is time with my family. Time with my family will allow me to pick up my kids after school every day and take them to gymnastics classes. This will allow me to share special moments, big and small, with them and be the present parent I’ve always wanted to be.”
With your Big Vision in place, supported by your definition of success and your deeper why, you have a clear picture of what you are building! Your vision statement, mission statement, and core values will serve as priceless tools that will continuously support your dream business.
These three pieces will build a framework that allows you to reach your goals while staying in alignment with your priorities. They serve as a guiding light and keep you on the right track as you strive toward your vision.
I highly recommend you create statements for each of these.
Your business’ vision statement is a clear, aspirational summary of where you want your business to be 3, 5, or even 10 years in the future! While your vision statement is related to your Big Vision, it serves a different purpose (yes, it can be easy to mix the two up). Your vision statement tends to be a more public-facing statement that you share with your greater community, including your team, vendors, and clients. A clear vision statement ensures that you know what you’re building towards and that the whole team is working towards the same thing (if and when you decide to build a team)!
For example: Starbucks’ Vision Statement is, “To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.”
Your business mission statement is the purpose of your business and the intention behind your work. It can help you, and your team, see how your actions, tasks, and efforts play a part in the bigger scheme of things within your organization. Your mission statement will influence the community and culture within your team, where everyone feels invested and valued. Plus, a strong mission statement can even spill over into your client experience.
For example: Starbucks’ Mission Statement is, “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”
Your core values guide all of your actions as you work to fulfill your mission and build toward your Big Vision. Your core values are what you will weigh all your business decisions against! Every action or step you take will be aligned with these core values. As you build your team and engage with clients, leading with your core values ensures that everyone you engage with understands who you are and what you stand for as a professional in your industry.
For example: Starbucks’ Core Values include,
→ Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
→ Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
→ Acting with courage, challenging the status quo, and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
→ Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity, and respect.
Establishing your vision statement, mission statement, and core values will take time to develop, so don’t rush the process!
In addition, they will most likely change over time. Regardless, getting really clear on these three pieces will make building a business you cannot wait to jump into every day not only possible but realistic and sustainable!
So many things change in a year, a week, even in a few hours!
This work is not a one-and-done task to check off your to-do list and never revisit again.
Instead, vision setting work should be a regular rhythm you tend to in your business (I like to check in on my vision during my annual business review).
Because not only are you and your business changing every day, but the world, your lifestyle, your industry, and your priorities will also shift and evolve over time!
Coming back to your vision time and again will ensure your vision is still relevant, clear, and aligned.
Be sure to bookmark this blog, so you can return to it anytime you need a vision “reset” for your creative business!
If you’re looking to dive deeper into the business side of your creative work, check out my upcoming course! I designed it specifically with you in mind. It’s a self-paced course dedicated to all the things they didn’t teach you in art school. I’ll help you build your creative business from the ground up so that you can become the proud owner of a business you LOVE that loves you BACK!
You can hop on this no-obligation waitlist and be the first to know about my upcoming course launch!