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14 Questions to Ask When Creating Your Vision

A vision is a common purpose, a reason for being.

One of the things that I find that entrepreneurs often struggle with is creating their vision for the future – what will the business look like in three, five or ten years from now?

I’ve just finished reading an article in the February edition of Inc Magazine by Ari Weinzweig, co-founder and CEO of Zingerman’s Community and author of the book Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading. Ari suggested 14 questions to ask yourself when crafting your vision statement. I’m sharing it here as I think these questions are a really good starting point of things to think about when creating your own vision.

So, imagine that it’s 3, 5 or 10 years from now, and answer these questions about your company. (You can read an extract from the article on Inc here )

  1. How big is your business?
  2. Assess the factors by which you will measure your success (be as specific as possible)a) relative rank in your industry b) financial success for the organisation c) personal financial success d) product or service quality e) contribution to the community
  3. What are your most important product lines or services?
  4. What products or services do you refuse to offer?
  5. Describe how the shopping experience at your business takes place. What makes that experience unique?
  6. What are your customers and how do you find them?
  7. If your customer were asked to list 3 noteworthy things aobut your business, what would they be?
  8. How would you describe your management style (participative, top down, family style?)
  9. What kind of people do you hire as managers?
  10. What is your relationship to with your employees? What do they say about their jobs?
  11. What do you do every day? How much do you work?
  12. How does your community view your business?
  13. What do your suppliers say about you?
  14. What do industry experts say about you?

You can see here Zingerman’s 2020 Vision to help inspire you.

What do you think? What would you add to this list?


  • James M said:

    With all the ideas mulling through my brain about starting a business, I haven’t really considered the longterm impact it would have. This is a great list to get me thinking even more about this business.

    This may be a stupid question, but I’m considering starting a consulting business. Is it important to have a vision in place for 3+ years or is it better to focus on the initial business plan and starting up period?

  • Matthew Needham said:

    No, it’s not a stupid question at all James, thanks for raising. If you were an architect you’d start with a sketch of what the house is going to look like when it’s finished. You’d then show the sketch to your clients. Once the client has discussed and bounced around ideas with others, the architect would start to draw up the plans. If you didn’t know what you’re building, how would you know you’ve built the right thkng when you’ve finished it? So, to my mind having a vision first allows you to shape in your own mind what you’re trying to create. Another reason for creating the vision first and discussing it is that this is a very cheap time to make changes. The last thing you want to do is be making changes when you’re off on your journey as these changes tend to be much more expensive.

    A business plan is merely the road map to take you where you want to go. Great question, thanks for the comment.

  • Chris C. Ducker said:

    Great article, Matthew.

    Too many people nowadays put a corporate ‘vision’ on their website and leave it at that.

    There is more to a company than just marketing or sales. Where the company is going for the future… How the employees are taken care of… The core values of the company and how they affect everyone involved – including supplier, vendors, etc., not just employees.

    Lots and lots to take into consideration when you break down the vision itself.

    Good read.


  • Matthew Needham said:

    Thanks for the comment Chris. I was particularly interested in your new website as I’ve done very similar things in organisations I’ve worked in before. I think it will be very successful for you. You’re absolutely right to draw the point about suppliers and customers, as they are an integral part of your value chain.

    If you’re a solopreneur then it’s good to engage others in crafting your vision, otherwise, there are elements you simply might have overlooked.

    Thanks for your input buddy!

  • Steve@Lifestyle Design said:

    These are some great points about shaping the future. It is important to really HAVE a firm idea of where you are going to be. Your plan needs to encourage growth too. YOu should not be doing the same things 5 years from now as presently. Your business should scale and you should have a rough idea (at least) on how that is going to happen and be implemented.

    Thinking about the future and revising and adding to plans for it is not something that should be done one time and forgotten. There should be constant updating and revising. “where you are going” is something that you should actually think about every single day IMO.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Thanks for the comment Steve. You didn’t set on your 7 month trip in Europe without knowing where you were going. Sure you might not have known what you’d be doing each day but you had ideas about what you were going to do. Running a business is the same too. You’re absolutely right about including growth and also recognising competition, because you don’t operate in a vaccum.

    I’m not sure about revisiting every single day, but you should certainly check in regulary. Although If you mean the vision should guide your day to day, then yes you’re absolutely right. It should guide you in every single way.

    Thanks for stopping by! Matthew

  • Adrian Swinscoe said:

    Hi Matthew,
    This is a great exercise to go through for start or an established business and one that is worth sharing and discussing with your team, customers and suppliers as you grow to see how it reflects reality.

    I think it’s also useful to have a vision for 1 year, then 3 years and then 5 years as it will help build out how you want the business to progress over time. This can then be the narrative that helps build a business plan and strategy for growth.



  • Matthew Needham said:

    Thanks Adrian. You’re right engaging with the stakeholders helps generate traction and build engagement. What’s more it becomes the story that eveyone can lay their hat upon.


  • Murlu said:

    Hey Matthew

    Thanks for bringing this up man, this’ll be a great resource tomorrow because I’ve realized, just today, that I’ve been approaching a few projects the wrong way – I’ve been treating them just as I called them … projects but they’re actually business and with that shift in mindset – I really need to focus on these types of questions to turn it into a success.

    That’s the plan anyway; dig through my mission with a few of my projects – take them from little side projects to side businesses!

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Murray, glad you’ve found this of use. Well projects businesses can be the same thing and you can have visions for each of the projects. However, you’re absolutely right, you do need to ask yourself some tough questions then work out how you’re going to get there. Good luck my friend. If you need any help, please do let me know. Matthew