There’s nothing like the blank slate feeling of a new year. And that sense of a fresh start can be even more exhilarating if you’ve had this thought:
“I want to start a business.”
Of course, that exhilaration may be tempered by doubt, nervousness—even anxiety. Before you become overwhelmed by what’s ahead, let’s take a deep breath and start with the most important step: determining your personal vision.
Your personal vision is what guides your entrepreneurial journey. It’s the very foundation of your business. And a vision is especially important because it will inform critical business elements like your business plan, market strategy and messaging, to name a few.
When you’re flooded by the burst of energy that comes from imagining yourself as a business owner, it’s easy to rush into a business plan, or building a website, or looking for office space.
In this moment, don’t worry about any of that. Those steps will come later. First, it’s time to focus on your personal vision and document it.
You’ve probably heard stories of wildly successful businesses starting from a few hasty scribbles on a bar napkin, or sketches on whatever scrap paper was in reach. No matter the medium, these are expressions of a personal vision: or, in other words, what you’re going to accomplish. Because when you’ve identified that key information, then you can start to plan how you’ll get there.
Before we dig more deeply into determining your personal vision—and where you go from there—let’s briefly examine the difference between your personal vision and your company’s vision.
Your company’s vision will likely be similar to your personal vision. A company vision serves as part of your business roadmap. The vision, in essence, is your destination. Then, you can define how to get there.
A personal vision, too, is the destination you want to reach, or the goal you want to accomplish. But your personal vision may be, well, more personal.
After all, your personal vision is what drives you, what pushes you, what motivates you during long days, late nights and as you navigate various obstacles and challenges.
Take Rachel Young, for example. She’s the founder of New Ocean Health Solutions, which empowers users to manage all aspects of their physical, emotional and financial health with ease, embracing long-term, meaningful lifestyle changes and chronic condition management.
Before she built her business, she defined a vision and passion, drawn from heart-wrenching personal circumstances.
“New Ocean is a passion that was prompted by pain—namely, the health struggles of my three younger brothers, who all died from a rare genetic kidney ailment,” she says.
The inspiration for your personal vision may also be one of loss, or of triumph, or simply of fulfilling a longtime need. Focus on your vision first; then, build that vision into your business and let it guide everything you do.
If you’ve dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur, chances are high that you’re well on your way to defining your personal vision. But if you need help putting your personal vision on paper, start with these three questions:
Remember: the time to figure out the “what” and “how” comes later. This is a time to simply think big. Effective personal visions start with a 50,000-foot view. Then, as you start to create a course of action, you can consider narrowing the scope of your personal vision.
One other tip? Don’t be afraid to get personal. Again, your personal vision will overlap with your company’s vision, but they aren’t the same thing. This is the time to examine and identify what drives you. What keeps you up at night? What do you want to do, so much so that your life will feel incomplete if you don’t pursue this idea?
Now that your personal vision development is well underway, let’s take it to the next level.
You’re well on your way to determining your personal vision. Feels pretty great, right?
Now it’s time to dig deeper into your vision and start to build the roadmap that will guide how you actually achieve that vision. That’s exactly what you’ll do with Kauffman FastTrac.
FastTrac is an immersive curriculum that’s designed for entrepreneurs in all stages, including aspiring entrepreneurs. The free courses are available online, which means you can learn at your own pace.
During each course, you’ll have a chance to immerse yourself in a particular topic. You’ll use tips, exercises and tools to think about your personal vision and your business idea, then identify how they match and how you’ll build your business.
It’s not always easy to make the jump from defining your personal vision to creating and launching your business. As she prepared to launch New Ocean Health Solutions, Rachel found herself in a similar struggle. That’s when she turned to FastTrac.
“In a business world full of noise, complex infrastructures and ‘sophisticated’ financing, FastTrac gave me—a full-time nurse and working mom/wife—the building blocks required to pursue my passion and my vision,” she says. “I give FastTrac credit for helping me move from crayon drawing to commercialization—one step at a time.”
Now, it’s your turn. Grab your lists, your notes, your crayon drawings—whatever you’ve got. Then, register for Kauffman FastTrac and start your journey to making your personal vision your personal reality.
Receive Email Updates
Sign up to receive marketing communication from the Kauffman Foundation or Kauffman FastTrac