I have taken some time to observe Nigerian businesses and while some of them are doing so well, others are a tale of woes. It becomes a worrisome situation when you consider how new businesses are created daily and eventually close-up without either creating any genuine wealth or outliving the entrepreneur. This is a trend that is easily noticed in Africa and have not helped the people rise above poverty. The question is, are there ways we can build businesses that create wealth over lifetimes and become brands like Coca cola and Pepsi and thrive for generations? The answer is yes. The answer lies in vision.
Talk of businesses without vision
There are a number of reasons why many African businesses do not do so well in the long run. I will dedicate a number of posts to share with you what I have learnt over the years. A brief interaction with any business man in the streets of Lagos will draw your mind to a very simple reality. This reality is that many business people still run based on survivalist instincts. If you asked a business person why he or she was in business. You might hear a thing like; ‘I want to run a business so that I can make money and expand my operations, give jobs, etc. These may sound like interesting goals or motivations, maybe. Unfortunately, many are able to provide enough funds to sustain the business for a while.
Talk about business experimentation here and there. Note that I am not talking about the illiterate business man in the village. I am talking about graduates who might have attended some fancy training here and there, designed to help them succeed. Many entrepreneurs are highly motivated at the point they want to start a business. These motivations wither over time till the business ends as another failed project. So my mission is to help you overcome that.
While motivation might seem like an interesting thing to have for your business to grow, having a vision is better. Vision is what keeps you motivated when the chips are down. So let’s delve a bit into our subject.
What is a vision?
A vision is a picture of the future you want for your business or organization. This is not as easy as it sounds. It is expected to have everything in it that you hope to accomplish. Just Like the popular saying about a picture being worth a thousand words, that’s how visions are conceived. One of the most common errors people make in developing visions is identifying a thing or an objective you can achieve in a single way. For instance, a person might say; ‘the vision of my business is to produce books for secondary schools’. That is not a vision, that’s a poorly written objective. So a business built on this objective is likely to fail fast eventually.
What vision should really do
A vision should say clearly the main thing you hope to achieve. Vision is not a single ideal you can achieve in one way but should be an ideal you can achieve in so many different ways. If I set up a business with a vision to improve learning experiences for students in a particular school age; that is a good one. I can achieve it through providing or outsourcing teachers who use innovative teaching techniques to schools, or providing training to teachers employed in schools, developing teaching aids, developing/producing/supplying instructional materials, researching about, designing and building improved learning spaces in schools, etc.
The good thing about a good vision is that it helps you adapt to situations and stay in business. Adequate strategy development processes can help business people improve operations over time. A vision talks about all the things you hope to accomplish in your business, keeps you focused and ensures you succeed. I hope you now understand the role a good vision plays in every business.