If you already have a vision, then read on, if you don’t have a vision, then read on

Beginning on a personal note, when starting our business there seemed to be a lot of factors we had to consider – the quality of the facilities and building a centre that met every demand, having the best horses, having every conceivable activity we could offer and so we went on. Then we thought, hang on, what about the customer?  So our vision is running a customer service business, first and foremost  and that is still our vision. Everyone in the organisation shares this vision with us.

If you don’t have a clear vision that is communicated clearly then difficult times are likely to ensue. If you started with a vision and the business has moved off course ending up in difficulties, then the next paragraph from one of the best business leaders of all time shows you are in good company!

Here is a statement made in a press conference from Steve Jobs (founder of Apple) when asked a very awkward question about why his business was declining and in a poor state of affairs

“One of the things I’ve always found is that you have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology (facilities). You can’t start with the technology (facilities) and try to figure out where to try to sell it. I made this mistake probably more than anybody else in this room and I have the scar tissue to prove it. We have tried to come up with a strategy and a vision for Apple that starts with what incredible benefits to give to the customer and working with the customer, not starting with the engineers (instructors/grooms) and figuring out what awesome technology (facilities) we have, and how we can market it.”

This is a great example, of a great business leader admitting he went wrong – after this came the      i-phone and the rest, as they say, is history.

Here is the vision from Virgin Group as a real life example. The group as you know operates in many industries including aviation, telecommunications, banking and space tourism. Pretty complex structure; however all businesses under Virgin Group share a common purpose:

‘to enhance people’s lives’

That makes things a little simpler

The point of all this, is to focus on your vision, or quite likely, re-focus  your vision and revisit it to ensure you are still on course. Also set your goals high and set the vision based on things that wont change. If the vision based on local competition and political factors and other such variables you will be re-writing your vision statement every year!
Your vision is a vivid mental image of what you want your business to be at some point in the future, based on your goals and aspirations. Having a vision will give your business a clear focus and can stop you heading in the wrong direction. It gives you a reason to get up every morning, excited and driven and following your dream.

Some of this may sound like ‘big business’ stuff but big business got big for a reason, and the main reason is them sharing their values and their vision with their staff and their customers to be inspirational and clear with all the main stakeholders. The main thing, is carry out your vision and lead by it, so others can share your dream. The most effective method, as in many things, is lead by example.

Writing a vision statement means you can refer back to it in all matters relating your business but if you do write one and publish it make it clear, unambiguous and concise. Virgin got it down to 4 words – not bad for an internationally diverse multi £bn company!

As ever, the theory sounds sensible and simple but it really is:

  1. set out your goals and ideas to achieve a very clear focus on the direction of your business
  2. share them with whoever comes into contact with you and your business by communicating clearly your vision and dreams that you have
  3. lead by example keeping your vision in mind in any direction you take

I will continue to publish these blogs and articles outlining key strategies for building a really successful livery and riding centre. Over the last seven years, my wife Jo and I have built up what we think is a very successful enterprise that we are proud of www.reinandshine.co.uk  We made our own mistakes and learnt a lot on the way.

But when we started there was no help anywhere, from anyone in the riding centre market. A few marketing people but no real insider business knowledge specifically for riding establishments. Well now there is.

Equine Business Consultancy Ltd
1 Buryhill Farm, Braydon, Wiltshire, SN5 0AD – 01666 860068 – johnmcdonald@jamesg62.sg-host.com