January 12, 2016

Keeping a Clear Vision

By: Jennifer Borba von Stauffenberg

One of the most difficult things about being an entrepreneur is keeping your vision clear. I can’t tell you how many times I have talked with clients and colleagues about this very topic.

There is a very pure moment when you conceive your business—it’s often referred to as the “Aha” moment. I’ve had the privilege of hearing really great stories about this moment. One of my clients was painfully enduring a plank and looked down at her hands for motivation and her vision was born.

For my company, it didn’t happen all at once. Given the fact that loyalty is an important value of mine, I kept pretending it wasn’t something I wanted until I really couldn’t deny it. The idea of moving on from my last employer seemed too difficult of a task. When I finally allowed myself to dream it up, I couldn’t stop the ideas from flowing. I saw it and it was crystal clear, name and all – all at once. I completed my business plan in just hours and couldn’t wait to hit the pavement.

But here’s the thing…you get excited and you start telling people about your vision and they start layering their ideas on it. Sometimes without even noticing it, you can derail your vision and start creating something you are really not in love with. I hate to say this, but I’m guilty of this very task. It’s one of those human things that you know about, but somehow forget from time to time.

One of my mentors shared the perfect analogy about this process. She said that when you have that vision, it’s like holding a bowl of purified water. Each idea that others share is like someone putting the tiniest fleck of poop in your water. Suddenly, it’s contaminated and you can’t drink it. Even with a purification process, you may never feel like your water is filtered back to purity for drinking. For this reason, you must protect your pure water.

Here are some simple things you can do to make sure you remember when you forget:

  • Write it down. I always refer back to a document that outlines my original vision. It’s different than my business plan. It’s more like free writing I did about the impact I wanted to make on the world and how it would feel to me.
  • Notice how you feel when people give you suggestions about your business. Sometimes they sound great, but is it really what you want? I see this most often when someone an entrepreneur respects provides ideas. If the conversation is tapping into insecurities, just shake it off.
  • Enroll your team and closest friends, so they can hold you to the vision.
  • Write a list of questions you can ask yourself periodically to ensure you are on track.
  • Believe in yourself…it’s that simple.
  • Don’t give up. Someone very wise once told me that if you are in the space right before everything clicks and you are having a hard time holding on, remember that the cockpit shakes violently right before the aircraft breaks the sound barrier. You are probably so close to breaking through.

There is a reason why being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Acknowledge yourself for being awesome and protect that amazing vision. You owe it to yourself and the world to birth your idea and give it life.