How to Use Your Vision to Create Business Goals

Laura Jennings
January 19, 2024
How to Use Your Vision to Create Business Goals

Want to know why you keep failing to reach your annual business goals? Because you are confusing your “vision” with your “goal.”

Entrepreneurs like you have a certain amount of visionary thinking. You can clearly see where you want your business to go and you inadvertently list the items you see in your vision as goals.  The issue is that when you start breaking that down you have huge "sub-goals,” way too many finish lines to cross, and 10x the number of tasks to cross each finish line. Before you know it, your January 1 optimism is shaded by overwhelm. Where did the plan go wrong? 

One way you know you've made your vision your goal is looking at these levels you have to go through before you can take action on anything. Accomplishing a vision takes time, years in fact, to materialize. Remember, you also have to run your business, so if your goals are too big, you literally lose sight of what you wanted to achieve in the first place. Your vision moves farther and farther away.

Let me give you an example. You are an entrepreneur who lives in the eco-conscious city of Smithville, and you’ve always dreamed of being a pioneer in your community. You own a small boutique downtown, and you work hard to make your business as business-friendly as possible. But you also run the business, manage your employees, tackle unexpected problems, oversee marketing, work with vendors — and your vision remains just a dream with no plan on how to make it a reality.

It’s good to have that vision you thought was a goal, but now to operationalize your vision. Sit down for a few hours and figure out how to create your objectives, goals, and tasks.

The Difference Between Visions, Objectives, Goals, and Tasks

Objectives are the bridge to your vision.

Objectives act as the bridge between your big-picture vision and the specific goals and targets you need to reach. They provide you with detailed roadmaps for achieving your vision in key areas. 

For the aspiring environmental pioneer in Smithville, there might be several objectives to reach their singular vision. Objectives such as sustainable sourcing, eco-conscious packaging (or none when possible), reducing their carbon footprint, reducing energy use, and educating customers.

Now take a second and think about the work that would go into just one of those objectives. Can you see how "Becoming an environmental pioneer in Smithville" is a vision, not a goal? Even if you add an objective to the vision (to be more specific), the path to get there is still too vague. “Becoming an environmental pioneer in Smithville by reducing the carbon footprint of delivery drivers” doesn’t tell you what to do, when to do it, or the actions you need to take to make it happen. That’s why the next two steps, Goals and Tasks, are so critical to making progress toward your vision.

Goals guide you towards the vision.

Goals transform abstract visions into tangible targets. 

In the context of our eco-friendly boutique, the vision is to become an environmental pioneer in Smithville through their boutique business and the objective of reducing the carbon footprint takes them from vision to goal. So, what in that business creates a carbon footprint? Maybe the transportation used in shipping and delivering their products? This entrepreneur might then create a goal to optimize delivery routes to reduce vehicle carbon emissions by a defined percentage by the end of this year.

Now back to you. Which one of your business objectives feeds your vision and needs your focus the most? Do you need to improve your back-end operations or improve your sales team? Do you need to transition to a new technology or hire specialists to expand your capacity? 

Choose one of your objectives, then turn it into a goal by getting specific. What do you need to do? When can you complete it? How will you measure progress? Who is involved?

You will know you have a goal when you can answer: how will you get this done? And can see the steps you need to take to get there. 

What’s next? You create a plan using tasks.

Tasks move your business forward.

Use your goal to create a short list of tasks, or actions, that will help you achieve your goal. Breaking it down in this way prevents the overwhelm you feel when you say you want to “reduce your carbon footprint” and shows you exactly how you make progress toward that objective step by step. Rather than trying to spend 12 hours in one day figuring out the solution, tasks show you how you can spend an hour a week this quarter to achieve the same result.

Our eco-friendly boutique owner set a goal, and now they list out all of the actions they need to take to reach the goal:

  1. Calculate the number of vehicles that need to convert to renewable energy to reach the predetermined percentage. 
  2. Compile all shipping routes and schedules. 
  3. Research charging stations and needs within range of the routes. 
  4. Analyze current distances and routes to identify gaps and redundancies. 
  5. Re-route according to charging needs and combine routes where available. 
  6. Recalculate carbon emissions with combined routes. 
  7. Research existing vehicle leases and identify the most cost-effective vehicles to replace. 
  8. Research cost savings and tax deductions. 
  9. Identify the number of vehicles to convert to electric. 
  10. Recalculate carbon emissions with new routes and new vehicles to ensure they hit the target.
  11. Implement new routes. 
  12. Shift to new vehicles. 

This is twelve tasks. If our entrepreneur tackles one per week, they will have this goal completed by the end of a quarter, at which time they can move on to the next most important objective to tackle.

Let’s turn back to you. Have your goal written on paper or in a document, and now list out all of the actions you need to take to reach the goal. Research steps and resources. Consider seasonality, time, and money. Once the tasks are laid out, start adding them to your calendar or schedule (at least one per week).

And voilà — you have a clear pathway to reaching a goal that is in alignment with your vision.

Finding the time to create your plan or implement your existing one can be difficult. LVL-Up helps entrepreneurs #GetItHandled through our Quarterly Planning program. Schedule a discovery call to get started.

Laura Jennings