Do you have a vision for your business? If your answer is yes, let me ask you a deeper question. What are you doing to bring that vision into reality?

In the years I’ve worked with small business owners, I’ve noticed many don’t take the time to evaluate what they need to do to succeed in their businesses. They just dive in with both feet and the determination to make it work as they figure it out on the fly. They’re often unclear on what they want (the vision) and, therefore, they don’t know how to get there (the plan). Sadly, that’s one big reason so many small businesses fail.

The truth is, many of us spend more time looking for a new couch than creating a vision for our company and planning to make that vision reality.

We’ll imagine what we want the room to look like. We carefully consider what we want and why we want it. We’ll spend hours researching on the Internet and going from store to store across several weekends or evenings to find the “perfect fit” for our vision of the room that couch will sit in.

We weigh all the variables – color, size, style, reclining vs non-reclining, as well as price. In short, we put a lot of time, energy, thought and discussion into choosing a piece of furniture.

Why? We do it because it matters to us. After all, that couch is going to be part of our lives for a long time. Our choice determines our enjoyment of that space and our comfort while using it for years to come. Shopping for furniture is also a process we understand. We’re comfortable with the process. And it can even be fun.

The problem is that most business owners wouldn’t exactly use the word “fun” when talking about evaluation and planning for their business. In fact, most can avoid evaluation and planning with remarkable skill! Maybe partly because most small business owners aren’t nearly as comfortable with the process of creating a vision and planning for sustainable growth as they are with shopping for a couch. Entrepreneurs also tend to be “doers” when it comes to business, as opposed to being planners.

But if the quest for a new couch deserves all that research and consideration, how much more time, energy, thought and discussion do our businesses deserve?

As entrepreneurs, we should give the success of our businesses a greater level of importance than many of us do. We have to be willing to devote the time, energy and thought we would give something far less important – like buying a couch. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying entrepreneurs don’t work hard or put forth a lot of effort. I KNOW they do. But this is about working smarter rather than harder. It is consciously charting the path we will follow to our success.

We have to be open to learning what we don’t know and make the time – because it matters. We have to consciously take a break from the busy-ness and doing, so we can figure out what actually needs to be done – those critical activities that will move our business forward.

We have to plan to be successful. That planning starts with a vision. To develop your vision, start by asking yourself these questions.

What do you want your business to be? – Who do you want to serve and why? (The “why” is a very big part of the equation!) Once you become clear on why you created your business and what you want it to be, you can then consider…

What is your vision for your business this year? In five years? 10 years? – How much money do you need/want to make?  How will you make that money? How do you scale it for sustainable growth? Do you want to fill a niche in a local market or do you have bigger dreams and goals?

The answers to those questions give you a foundation for moving forward. They help you evaluate what you’re doing now that isn’t working or doesn’t fit with the vision. They help you identify systems and processes that will streamline your day-to-day operations. That actually saves you time and energy! Your answers also get you to the all-important planning phase, which I talked about recently in an article that was published in StreetScape Magazine.

Owning and running a business is a HUGE undertaking! It deserves all the time, energy and thought we can give it. It’s not just about doing and busy-ness, but intentionally doing the right things to fulfill your hopes, dreams and vision for the future.

Don’t be intimidated by the process of formulating a vision and a plan. Like shopping for furniture, it can be fun once you understand the process and embrace it. There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing the business you created out of your dreams and determination succeed. That makes all the effort worth it, right?