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Board Member’s Memo: Envision the Future of Your Company

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by Mark Wesley, Founder, me+mi publishing & IBPA Board Member —

Mark Wesley

What was your dream when you started your publishing company? Is your dream still alive, or are you stuck in the day-to-day, tactical work of running a business? Have you been so busy doing the work that you have forgotten why your company even exists and where it is going?

What I want to share with you are some techniques to help you dream again and to help you create a vision of what your publishing company will look like in the future.

If you want to design or redesign your business, you are going to need a destination, a map, and a renewed dream. As the leader of your company, you need to be able to have a clear vision and describe to your employees, friends, family, and, most importantly, yourself where you are going and what it will look like when you arrive at your destination.

With that image in mind, it becomes clear which opportunities (authors, books, marketing) you should take and which ones you should pass on. As Steve Jobs said, “It’s only by saying ‘no’ that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” Your vision keeps you aligned, it empowers you, and it attracts commitment.

There are two major elements that make a company vision effective: core values and core purpose.

Core values refer to the essential and established guiding principles that your company lives by. This sets your company apart from others in terms of operating practices and entrepreneurial strategies. Come up with three to five core values that are central to who you are. Here are some questions that will help you determine your core values:

  • Create a list of what you want in your life.
  • Create a list of what you don’t want in your life.
  • What does your publishing company do and how do you do it?
  • What are your personal values?
  • What are the personal values you want your employees to have?

Your core purpose clearly defines the reason for the existence of the company.

  • Why is your publishing company here?
  • Why are the books you publish important?
  • What would the market lose if your publishing company were to close its doors?
  • Would you still do this if you had enough money to retire? If yes, why?

Now that you’ve identified your core values and core purpose, you are ready to draft your vision. The following points may help you bring your vision to life.

Step 1: When will it be done?

When will your vision be realized? Many people work on a five- or 10-year window. At the speed at which things change today, I would suggest you work on a three- to five-year window.

Step 2: Write the first draft.

You should start by dreaming something big, bold, and incredible for your company. Here are some questions to help open up your mind.

  • How do you see your work environment? What makes it distinctive?
  • What will be the size and structure of your organization (annual sales, annual profits, number of employees)?
  • What management style would you like to emulate?
  • What particular behaviors and attitudes do you envision?
  • What will be the qualifications, skills, and the attitude you desire from your employees?
  • How is your business different from your competition?
  • How does your company story connect with your target market?
  • How does your company story connect with current and potential authors?
  • What are the distinctive elements of your books that you feel create your competitive advantage?
  • What are the public/distributors/booksellers views toward your company?
  • What is the classification of your target market?
  • What is the general description of your target market?
  • If an article was written about your company in Publishers Weekly five years from now, what will it say?

Step 3: Get feedback.

Get feedback from people who will give you the good, the bad, and the ugly. You don’t want to just get
feedback from people who will tell you that everything is great. Look for people you can trust to give you clear, honest advice. If what they say makes sense and it connects with the vision, make the adjustments. But if it does not connect with your vison, stay the course.

Step 4: Read it out loud.

Read it out loud and record it so that you can play it back a few times. Does it excite you? Does it stretch you? Can you clearly see your business when it is done? If the answers are “no,” then you need to rewrite until you can answer yes.

Step 5: Share your vision.

Share the final version of your vision with your managers, employees, and board members. Your vision should be clear and precise enough so that they all can realize where you are going and feel motivated to help you fulfill that vision.

The vision of your company is the foundation on which the present and the future of your business stands. It is a foundation of the present because it gives you the map and the fuel you need to start realizing and acting in the right way to fulfill your vision of the future.

Mark Wesley is a publisher, business development coach, and marketing strategist. He helps business owners embark on a journey to discover and create the business and life of their dreams. He is also a current member of the IBPA board of directors. Reach him on Twitter @MetaMorphicx

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