No one likes seeing a startup fail. So why do so many fall flat?
Contrary to popular belief, most startups don't fail because they run out of money. Yes, cash flow is often the reason that the business ultimately closes its doors, but in many cases, the reason is because the founders and team members have lost focus on their true vision.
As obvious as it may sound, many companies today are either moving so quickly that they don't take the time to define themselves; define themselves too vaguely; or, "talk the talk without walking the walk."
While some of these companies perform and thrive extremely well over the short term, it's often attributed to the momentum generated by their initial breakthrough. However, that same momentum can sometimes generate numerous opportunities that run the risk of missing the target.
Many entrepreneurs today fail to take the actions that research shows actually help businesses survive. Numerous studies have shown that putting in place careful financial controls, emphasizing marketing plans and writing a clear, concise business plan --- that highlights the overall vision --- increases the odds that a new business will survive.
Yet, many founders still have inadequate financial controls, don't focus on their overall marketing plans and most importantly, fail to write plans that convey the overall sense of purpose, or vision, of the company.
For a startup, it's during the time of fast growth that it becomes crucial for team members to remain focused on the vision. This requires a clear and consistent understanding of what the company is all about.
The importance of a big and bold vision statement cannot be overlooked; not only does it provide long term direction and guidance, but it also gives team members inspiration and the necessary energy to keep going.
A vision allows startups to set goals that can define path and progress. For each goal, whether it's "100K Users" or "5 percent market share," you can plan a strategy for achieving it. A strategy then allows you to choose tactics, or, different ways you can go about achieving it. And each tactic lets you pick what actual work needs to get done in order to make it happen.
The key to creating a powerful vision for your business is going deep, not just skimming the surface. Your vision should make you feel excited and motivated when you read it; you want to be able to actually feel achievement. To do that you have to focus on all aspects of your entrepreneurial vision, including how it impacts your life and the people around you.
It is often said that great teams are fueled first and foremost by great people, also known in the industry as the "rising tide effect." If you pick a product or service that is innovative, large and exciting, often that segment and all related-businesses perform extremely well.
It's also important to keep in mind that companies with big visions are bolder and higher risk, which tend to attract a specific type of job seeker who often wants something bigger --- these talented professionals are usually the type who want to "go for it."
With this said, startup leaders should always strive to hire better people. By doing so, the overall quality of the team will rise. Hiring better and better people has a nonlinear impact to the culture because a team is a fully connected group of individuals who collaborate together. And we all know that greater overall quality of a team means richer connections and more powerful, higher quality innovation and products or services.
Starting a company isn't easy and you don't want your business to fail. Work smartly, keep an eye on every penny, surround yourself with others who have bought into your vision, and take baby steps before running a marathon. Remember, you'll always have a chance to upgrade and improve your products and services.
It's essential that when you are making strategic decisions for your business, your vision statement can give your team necessary inspiration and targeted direction. And the more specific and clear you are, the better your chances are at seeing your vision turn into reality.
The most successful businesses set a clear vision that, unlike strategies and tactics, doesn't change much over the years. Your vision should represent the goal of your company at its core and will help remind your team what your company has set out to ultimately accomplish.
Visualization is a powerful tool you can use in all stages of launching and growing a business. Be sure to keep your vision statement alive and visibly in front of you, revisit it, and let it help direct your daily actions and activities.
Not only will it prepare you to take action, it will enhance your ultimate motivation --- one of those critical challenges every entrepreneur faces.
Follow Dane Atkinson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/daneatkinson