How to develop your business vision

[Excerpt from Everything You Wanted to Know about Freelance Writing —

As we approach the end of 2013, it’s a great time of year to develop your business vision

Why business vision?
Most writers I know do not have a business vision, let alone a business plan. If they have a business plan, it’s most likely a long document that is not very practical. For instance, it might define their services and competition and the approximate size of the market they can tackle; however, it might not include a detailed marketing plan—the stuff writers need to do to sell services to clients.

Your business vision is your target. It’s the business life you want to live—the life of a six-figure freelance writer, perhaps. The business plan includes the goals and objectives and big picture strategies and details that support your vision. The marketing plan, as you shall see [in the book], includes the tasks you must do to reach your objectives so you can fulfill your vision.

If you do not have a business vision, and business and marketing plans, or if your business plan is collecting dust in a drawer because it’s not very useful, it’s time for a change. It’s time to start doing things differently.

Why do things differently? If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. Because nothing changes unless you make changes in the way you do things. Are you ready to change, to try something different? If so, let’s go! …

As mentioned, your business vision is the foundation of your business plan. Without a business vision, how will you know where you want to go? Without a destination, how will you create a road map to get you there? …

To define your vision, think like a journalist. Answer the W5 questionswho, what, where, when, and why (and sometimes how)—from a business perspective.

Who are you now?
Before you figure out who you want to be, focus on who you are now. …

Take some time to answer the first set of questions. Be honest about who you are now, but don’t beat yourself up over anything. You are on a journey, and we are trying to establish where you are now. Then we will look at where you want to go, and how to get you there. …

Vision questions: Who are you now?
Answer the vision questions below. Take a few minutes, or more if you need it, and figure out who you are now and how you got here.

When you are answering the questions below, I want you to write as freely as possible. Use point form if it helps you answer more freely. Keep in mind that this exercise is for your eyes only. So don’t censor yourself.

– Who are you?

– What do you do?

– Who do you do it for?

– Where do you do it? 

– When do you do it?

– Why do you do it?

– How did you get here?

Please answer these questions before you read on.

… Next, you are going to answer a similar set of questions, but this time you are going to look ahead. Visualize, through writing, who you want to be and what you want to do. Before you write, read each of the questions and then close your eyes and try to picture the answers. This will help with your writing.

Don’t be concerned if you are not quite sure how to answer the questions. … In other words, you are not carving the Ten Commandments in stone here. What you write can change. But just because it can change, do not short-change yourself here. Give this exercise some thought.

Your turn
Remember, you are looking at who you aspire to be. You may want to develop a freelance writing business or increase your current freelance revenue. You may want to write for periodicals on a freelance basis but pick up some corporate work. You may want to find new or better-paying corporate clients. Like me, you may want to do corporate writing and training, and perhaps write and sell some books (those aspects are part of my full business vision).

This is your vision. Be both as broad and as specific as possible. This information may change as you progress through the book [Everything You Wanted to Know about Freelance Writing]. Nothing wrong, and a lot right, with that. Ultimately, you will use this information to help you determine and write your business and marketing plans. With that in mind, answer the questions below:

– Who do you want to be?

– What do you want to do?

– Who do you want to do it for?

– Where do you want to do it? 

– When do you want to do it?

– Why do you want to do it?

– How will you get there?

Please answer these questions before you read on.

Note: You can take a stab at the how question; however, much of the rest of this book  [Everything You Wanted to Know about Freelance Writing] is devoted to helping you answer how.

Now what?
Now I suggest you turn your point form statements into sentences. In other words, create a formal business vision.

Look for gaps between the answers in Set One (who you are now) and those in Set Two (who you want to be). Those gaps represent the gaps between your current reality and your business vision. As you progress through the book, you work on clarifying your business vision and then on figuring out how to close the gaps.

At minimum, you should revisit your vision once a year. Preferably, though, conduct this review once every three or four months over the next year or two if this is the first time you have developed a vision for your business. To remember to do that, book your business-vision visits in your scheduling software. Get into the habit of using your scheduling software so that your computer can tell you what to do, based on what you told your computer you want to do.

With all of the above in mind, what is your business vision? Or should I say: what is the who, what, where, when, and why of your business vision?

[Paul Lima is the author of Everything You Wanted to Know about Freelance Writing


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