Why do you need vision in business?
Guy Rigby, Head of Entrepreneurs, Smith and Williamson:
People need passion to be successful in business, if they don't have passion they are not going to be successful and they are not going to go the extra mile. If they can't go the extra mile, typically their business won't be successful.
How do people become visionary?
Typically people become visionary because they have experienced something they didn't like in their lives, they are unable to get hold of something, often it is to do with their children, the care for their parents. All sorts of issues come up that make people create new businesses and opportunities, finding better ways of doing things for the future.
Do you have any examples of visionary people?
Some examples of visionary people are Jeff Bezos of Amazon. He had the vision of creating the world's most customer-centric company, a shop without walls where you could find every possible book that you might need. He has expanded it since then but what a fantastic vision. Look at Bill Gates - a computer on every desk, Henry Ford - a car for the masses, Stelios - travel for everybody that couldn't afford it before. Those ideas are great entrepreneurial ideas and they needed vision.
What makes a visionary leader?
A visionary leader is someone who can see the end gain in their mind's eye. Someone who can get to the end and work out where they're going before they've even started. Someone who never gives up. James Dyson is a great example, he spent years designing his product which is now used by consumers all over the world. Thomas Edison was another great example, he famously said "I haven't failed, I've just found ten thousand ways that won't work."
How do you turn your vision into business success?
Vision is great but it achieves nothing on its own, ideas are two-a-penny and without a strategy you'll never bring it to life it will remain an empty promise.
What is strategy?
The word strategy is derived from the Greek word strategia which stands for generalship. It's all about the battle ahead, how you will turn your vision into a reality, the big things you have to do to achieve your dreams.
How do you develop a strategy?
This is the challenging bit because most businesses start without a clear strategy or a clear business plan, so they are never quite sure where they are going. This is a recipe for disaster. Typically an entrepreneur will have experience of the area that he is going to go into, he will be sticking to his knitting, he will understand a lot about the business area that he wants to develop. If he doesn't then he is taking far more risks than an entrepreneur who understands that market from end to end before he goes into it. So developing a strategy depends on knowing the market and then looking at all the different aspects; how you will go to market, what your product or service will look like, how you will make the public aware of it, why people will buy it which is a really important point that many entrepreneurs don't think about when launching their business. So all of these things come in to developing strategy. Strategy in a business isn't what you do on a day to day basis, it's the big things that you have to achieve that determine what you do on a day to day basis.
What is your strategy?
Smith and Williamson's strategy is to work with entrepreneurs, so in order to do that we need to get to the centre of the market, we need to become known in the market and be seen as a destination for growing businesses. We need to get a reputation for great advice and support.
How do you execute strategy?
Execution is another challenge, you need to work out the tactics you're going to deploy to actually achieve the strategy. So far we've got vision - the big picture and the end-game, we've got strategy - the key things we need to do to reach our end-game, we are now down to things we need to do on a day to day basis to achieve that.
What are the key things that you need to achieve your strategy?
To execute a good strategy you are going to need a great business plan. To build a great business plan you are going to need a great management team and to deliver the tactical day to day activities that you need to build a great business you are going to need some money. So at the end of the day you need vision, strategy and tactics. You need a management team and you need a plan and you're going to need some money.
What is the overall message?
Get your vision sorted out first. If you can't be passionate about your vision, think about doing something else. Once your firm on the vision, work on the strategy. If you've got a mentor or a management team, work on it together. It's only once you've developed the strategy you'll be able to work out things that you'll need to do on a daily basis to develop your business.