Do you have a vision for where your store will be in six years?  Many of us are too tied up with the day-to-day busyness of business to think as far as the end of the week, to say nothing of the end of the decade.  But the year 2020 will be here sooner than we realize.  And I’m sure there is a pun about hindsight being 2020 that would reinforce my point about the importance of planning ahead in order to reach your goal.

We all want to have our business survive and thrive. Perhaps you would also like to have a branch store or two in the next few years, or to franchise your concept.  You might want to have a management team in place so that you won’t have to work so hard.  Or perhaps you want to expand your current focus to add new products or services.

None of this will happen if you are preoccupied by making sure that the customer bathroom is not out of toilet paper. If you are managing things at that level every day, you need to delegate some responsibility to your employees so that you are free to do some future planning.

Some experts refer to this type of planning as “vision casting,” and I must admit I like the New Age sound of that.  As Leta Russell wrote in a blog posting about this topic, “A great analogy is to think of a fisherman who casts a line in order to attract fish. Often a specific bait is used to attract a particular type of fish. The same can be said of casting a business vision.  A clear, motivating, and inspired mission and vision will attract the people who are perfectly served by the vision. As a leader, when you fail to create a vision, you often end up where you didn’t want to go. Intention is what drives success! Vision casting is simply communicating in a big way your idea of what your business will look like into the future…the what will you do, for whom, and with what results, as well as the course for achieving it.”

To carry Russell’s fishing analogy one step further, I would suggest that in order to do a good job of vision casting you need to get away from the store.  It might even help to go to a natural setting like a lake or river where you can find some peace and quiet to contemplate what your personal goals are for the future, what you would like for your business, and what you foresee as the potential for its growth.  There are also market forces and changes in your business environment to take into account, of course.

The vision you come up with for your store’s future can have a great impact on its day-to-day operation. If you wish to branch out or franchise, for example, you’ll want to standardize your branding and procedures. If your goal is to sell your business, you’ll want to maximize its profitability. If you hope to work less in the coming years, you need to build up your staff and delegate some real responsibility.  All of these investments  — some in time, some in money — should help you be more satisfied with where you are when this decade eventually comes to a close.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder