“Don’t let reality get in the way of your dreams.” – Anthony Liccione
It’s early January and the world is full of New Year’s resolutions, lists of things you can do to make the year successful, and predictions about what kinds of things we’ll have to deal with throughout the year. In other words, it’s just like every other January. A new year always feels like a time to reflect and think about what you want for the coming year.
I don’t like New Year’s resolutions, but I like New Year’s imagining. We should take time to dream up our future and that of our business on a regular basis (although too many leaders don’t). So at the very least, take some time and ask yourself: How would you like to be able to describe your business a year from now?
Sometimes when I ask people that question I get a blank stare. Sometimes I get an answer like, “Better than today”. Rarely do I get an answer that sounds like something I could draw or measure. But those businesses than can answer with something I can visualize are usually the ones that get where they want to go.
If thinking about that picture is a struggle, break it into pieces. Why does your business exist? What value are you trying to bring to the world? Maybe it’s similar to what you’ve done in the past, maybe it’s not. Maybe you have a group of customers you work with, but no idea what they’ll value this year. Then you better need figure that out (hint: ask them).
If you know what you’re going to try & provide, think about how you provide it. Is there a new distribution channel? Is there a different model than what you’ve used in the past? Maybe your customers want something similar to what they’ve wanted in the past, but they want it in a different format or brought to them in a different way (technology has created a lot of that lately).
Does providing that value to those people in that way require some kind of new investment on your part? That could mean spending money on technology or people, but it could also mean spending time on yourself. What new skills will you need in 2018? What knowledge will be a mandatory part of your job in 2018?
The past few paragraphs are just a start, but here’s the point: think about the future you want. Think about it in terms you can visualize and measure. If you just float along on the “Better than today” cloud you’ll end up wherever the wind blows. Figure out what your dream is and then drive yourself there. That reality will be way more fun. Good luck.