What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? Adults love to ask this question to kids all the time. When was the last time you asked yourself this question? Do you stop and think about this for your business, your brand and your professional career?
What do you want your business to look like in five
years? Wouldn't it be helpful if you could watch a video of your future self reminding you about where you want to be? One of my first questions I
ask when someone seeks out advice or coaching about marketing is the vision thing. Where are you going? What do you want? What would your future self tell you where you are heading?
It helps to give a brand
direction toward something, even if it can’t be perfectly described.
Long-term planning is difficult. The rapid change of technology and commerce
is easy to see zipping past us as we try and move forward. But without some
destination in mind, your decisions lack a context and direction.
The tricky part of this conversation is that I also believe
that a lot of multi-year budgeting and forecasting work is a waste of
time. Businesses try and project sales
and expenses and rarely ever do the post mortem work to say why we didn’t hit
our numbers or why are our expenses higher than planned. They just move on to
the next planning cycle like robots without asking how to do things differently. Companies easily get lost in the details and miss the big picture.
But looking backwards
from the future is powerful. And it can help you realize a vision about tomorrow. It can help identify a north star toward which you are heading.
Imagine yourself five years from now. Describe your business
to me. Will you have 10 locations, sell in multiple channels or will you have
sold it and moved on to the next thing? Will
you be bankrupt or booming? What choices did you make that you regret and what things did you do that were pivotal toward the success?
As you sit in the future, what were the critical decisions
you made that helped bring you to this point.
I recently consulted with a mid-sized company who was looking to rapidly grow
and expand their consumer packaged goods business. (I’m intentionally keeping
the details of her industry and brand private at her request. She was cool with me sharing the vision she developed for her future).
They had a great first two years under their belt having
launch a product and grown it to a substantial level in their category. But
they felt stuck lately and unsure of where to go from here.
So we did a simple visioning exercise where I ask
them to close their eyes.
What would bring you
the rewards and happiness you seek in five years? Help me understand in very specific terms
what that might look like by describing what you are truly seeking. What
surprised this business woman was that she had not taken the time to think
about where she wanted to be.
She was so busy doing she never had time to
So we spent some time
dreaming and came up with a specific list of where she’d like to be on December
In five years, I want to:
my product line distributed through 25 major retail chains and through at least
the top 3 online retailers.
want to eliminate my manufacturing headaches and outsource it but find a way to
maintain the highest level of quality possible to protect my brand equity.
My Day Job: I
want to personally only do the design work and have others managing the
day-to-day part of the business. If this means giving up being the CEO, I’m
okay with that thought.
I want to adapt to new technologies but not get distracted by them so that they
get us focused on the wrong things. I have trouble staying focus so I hope I
will have learned to do this better.
Clearer Understand of
My Customer: I want to have a richer, deeper understanding of what my
customers love about my product and how I can continue to serve them in the
Steady Income: I’d
like to have a steady income over six figures but also be able to pay my team
significantly higher than industry standards.
Respect: I want
to be well-respected by my employees so they love to come to work and bring
their passion to our brand.
After writing up a summary of her vision, we are working on
creating a video of her talking to her current self from the five years out in
the future. Its done on an iPhone so its more of a fun exercise but it’s on her
phone and in her pocket. She can take out this short 2 minute video whenever
she is uncertain about a decision. It’s nice to be connected to your future self when faced with a tough choice. (What would I tell myself).
Perhaps you are struggling with your career and could do a similar exercise about where you want to be in five years? Having it on video as a reminder is powerful and allows you to see your future in the palm of your hand. A personal video is motivating and like a career GPS guiding you toward that future place.
What would your future self be telling you about your future direction?
Trying to get some clarity about your future? Need a marketing coach who can help you find your north star? Connect with me through Clarity and lets go back to the future.
Labels: business planning, career development, future self, Marketing Moments, Visioning exercise