But there I was, in the bathroom of the Woman's City Club in Akron, Ohio, washing my hands. I looked into the mirror and it hit me!
I must first confess that at 51, my mirror gazing moments are few and far between. I'm amazed to find wrinkles by my eyes. After all, I have kids. I yell more than I laugh! Where did the laugh lines come from?
But on this day, in the middle of a monthly Boardroom meeting led by Norma Rist, I had excused myself to use the restroom. I looked in the mirror and my reflection yelled:
"You idiot your business model is all wrong for you. You should be going in a totally different direction!"
This epiphany wasn't totally out of the blue as I'd been working on creating a vision for my business for a few months.
Has this ever happened to you: you lift your head from the intense focus of the work-a-day world to ask, "Where is this leading and what am I working toward?"
I had told Norma that I needed a Vision Class, the opportunity to force myself to create a vision for the future of my business; my life. Norma is the president of Norma J. Rist, CEO Consulting and is a phenomenal business coach and mentor.
This past July she gathered 18 women business owners for the purpose of creating our vision. However, I entered thinking I'd already found the answer. I didn't realize at the time, but I had closed my mind to any out-of-the-box thinking.
To successfully create a vision, you need to remove the blinders and leave preconceived notions at the door. I realize now that I had closed the door to true inspiration before we even started.
Norma started by asking a few questions:
- What personal/professional outcomes did we require?
- What did we do that gave us the most pleasure and feeling of success?
Then based on the Jim Collins model from Good to Great:
- What did we do better than anyone else?
- What are we deeply passionate about?
- What would people be willing to pay for?
It was at the intersection of those three answers that we find our true vision. In every case, I had an answer that didn't fit the neat little box of my vision and so I ignored the discrepancy. Hmmm. Should have been a hint, right? Call me thick-headed.
The next step was to imagine how we could take that unique slice of services or products and create a business that would benefit others. What did that look like? Who were the target customers?
Finally, how would we make money? Products? Services? Proprietary licensed materials? Online membership communities?
She actually made us put dollars to each item and multiply out the number of customers we would need to get to a million dollar business. Now that's a vision!
Firm in my belief of my vision, I multiplied and erased and added and pondered until I finally squeezed out about $250,000 of imaginary revenue. Whew.
This was hard work.
Our inner voice is a powerful speaker. My voice whispered that I should go down a different path but my mind was loudly proclaiming the original direction.
Have you been in that place; firm in your belief of what you are doing, even though a little voice hints that perhaps there is another alternative?
Since my bathroom epiphany, I have given in to the new direction and doors are opening, ideas flow and when I put pencil to paper? My new business model comes in just shy of $6 million. Okay, it is just on paper so don't be asking for a friendly loan, or anything.
But here is what I learned from my bathroom epiphany:
- We need a vision. A direction, a path, a plan that we can actually see achieving.
- It needs to be something that makes US feel good about ourselves. Eventually we get to making life easier or better for our customers, but first we need to feel good about ourselves as we travel down the path.
- It needs to provide a value to others, we need to make a difference. We are here for such a short time; we owe it to those who came before and those who come after, to make life just a little bit better.
- The vision needs to provide the life that you envision for your family, that might mean an income that pays the bills, puts some in savings and provides a cool family trip each year. Or it might mean rock star status. The cool thing is; it is your vision, so you get to pick.
- We need to listen to the little voice. It's pretty smart.
So what's my vision? Oh, it is still in the infant stages. WHAT it is, isn't really important. What is important is the fact THAT it is the fact that I have found a vision that is exciting for me and that I believe will ultimately provide value for others.
Do you have a vision?
About the Author: Deborah Chaddock Brown opened her freelance writing business AllWrite Ink in 2004 after almost 17 years with the International retail optical corporation, Pearle Vision. Deborah's background is in franchising, operations, marketing and communication, however, her passion is helping businesses connect with their target audience using the Internet. Deborah blogs at Websites People Read.