Reach for the Stars

Feb 2, 2012

With the economy still trying to climb out of its hole and another national election just around the corner, small businesses need to continue to focus on planning and direction.

Vision planning is what we’re discussing today. I recommend small performance shops constantly monitor internal company drivers and direction in order to sustain and grow.

Consider 45-day cycles as a metric in establishing your core business strategies, working with your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Recent articles have addressed the absolute need to focus on specific and core responsibilities such as SWOT as a component of planning your company’s future.

Growth at Hand

The recent SEMA, PRI and IMIS trade shows showed that while the business climate in the performance aftermarket is not completely sunny, more than 3,000 companies were willing to exhibit and keep things moving forward.

The shows were attended by tens of thousands of industry tradespeople looking at making it in this industry and making it now. Instead of waiting on the economy, we’re creating our own.

Ask small- to medium-sized manufacturers or any manger or business owner and most will tell you they are excited about the opportunities expected in 2012. Perhaps they are rebels with a cause, but I find their optimism crucial to long-term success.

As I strike conversation with leaders and icons, I also listen and share with those newer to the industry as business creators and developers of enterprise. One thing I’ve found is that everyone who is making it in this industry, or plans to make it, is doing so with a lot of heart. And let’s face it-forging ahead in the performance aftermarket is not for the weak of heart!

The current atmosphere is robust and everyone is on the throttle hard, but a full-speed-ahead approach is reckless without proper planning and direction.

Do you have the appropriate tools and a focus on the action steps needed to succeed? Is your drive and determination accompanied by thought and foresight to execute your company’s game plan?

The key to success is planning and executing. Follow this path down the road of success.

The Act of Visioning and Focusing

Forming a strategic vision should provide long-term direction. It reflects what type of enterprise your aftermarket company is trying to become, and infuses a sense of purposeful action.

Frequently I see companies that act out the daily routine but close the door at the end of the day without truly accomplishing much in the way of moving the business forward. Vision serves as a unifying focal point for everyone on your team. It’s also an extension of focusing on the core cause of your mission.

Establishing a vision statement is somewhat like a mission statement but even more far-reaching in the scope of time. Think out five years or longer. Plot out what you think is real and then describe in detail what your intended outcome will likely be with prudent strategies and a step-by-step action plan.

Don’t be shortsighted. Some may say five years out is not realistic due to changing technology. Believe me, business is business and the aftermarket is one such enterprise that rolls with people and their dreams and desires-and has done so for decades-and while new technology is part of the landscape, it’s those relationships that truly power this industry.

Being optimistic is a vital element within your company vision statement-just as it is in your work environment.

I recommend developing a vision statement that’s far-reaching but attainable. Push your thinking out far enough in the future to really have a grasp on yourself and your business model. Some of the simple steps within your vision planning should include the following:

A vision statement: A short, concise statement of your company’s future.

A vivid description: A long list of words and phrases that describes what your future state is like.

Examples of visions that were very lofty at the time but that made people think include:

“We’ll will put a man on the moon before the end of the decade and bring him back” (President John F. Kennedy).

“A computer on every desk and in every home using great software as an empowering tool” (Microsoft).

One may have thought those statements wild at the time-more like science fiction than business savvy. But look what happened.

Try to plan your vision from dream to completion, and be sure to reach for the stars.

The Key Elements

Your vision statement needs to incorporate many things. The following list contains elements that you can include in an effective vision statement-keeping in mind that these are starting points for thought and execution.

As an offshoot, you’ll notice the vision statement actually taking form as your personal marketing statement and specialty. Be creative, sit back and think, unclutter your mind in the process and be vivid and bold. This is no high school PE exercise, but the molding of mindful principles within your business thought process.

Have some fun in the process and enjoy the ride.

Elements of consideration in crafting your vision and focus statement include:

Audacious: Represents a dream that’s beyond what you think is possible. It represents the mountaintop your company is striving to reach. Visioning takes you out beyond your present reality.

Capitalizes on core competencies: Builds on your company’s core competencies. It builds on what you’ve already established: company history, customer base, strengths, and unique capabilities, resources and assets including human capital.

Future-casting: Provides a picture of what your business looks like in the future.

Inspiring: Engaging language that inspires. It creates a vivid image in people’s heads that provokes emotion and excitement. It creates enthusiasm and poses a challenge.

Motivating: Clarifies the direction in which your organization needs to move and keeps everyone pushing forward to reach it.

Purpose-driven: Gives employees, your team, a larger sense of purpose, so they see themselves as building a cathedral instead of laying stones.

There are many methods successful business use to update their vision strategies. Some create a formal written message, while others keep it in the back of their minds for every decision they make.

My suggestion is to incorporate it into a valid statement of fact that you can not only live with, but post on the lunchroom wall.

Don’t hide the fact that you’re constantly growing and can enable others to do so within your work and personal environments. Life is a two-lane highway with many off ramps. Make your road one that is smooth, fast and doable with selected actions steps such as vision planning.

Whether you’re a manufacturer, jobber, WD or something in between, what’s holding you back from being the best that you can be? With a solid strategy and confidence, there’s nothing stopping you.

As always, cheers ‘n gears.