Grounding Your Small Business Vision

This post presents an effective and strategic decision-making process that will ground your small business vision in a rock solid foundation.

Work this process and you’ll have a big picture vision to create your ideal business in the coming year. Before taking action, it’s important to zoom out and see the big picture of what you want to build.

Zooming out and deciding on an ideal business vision is an essential step before zooming in to decide on tactics and actions, for two reasons.

1). You’ll be better able to prioritize, focus and act on what you want.

2). You’ll be better equipped to discern which outside offers and influences are aligned with what you want and which are not.

This clarity will reduce overwhelm and allow you to fully commit. Commitment does not follow indecision; and, success is not reached without commitment.

To nail down your business clarity it’s enlightening to first look through these three filters so that your existing beliefs can be supported and/or challenged as needed. We only know what we think we know, so checking in is wise.

1). Decide on your overarching business model.

It’s important to decide on a business model in advance and make decisions congruent to that model. This decision will minimize internal resistance and allow your confidence to build.

In essence, no model is good or bad. However, model congruency is essential for success. It’s ineffective to jump back and forth between models because then there is no solid foundation to build upon.

I use an authentic business-building model that says business success is generated to the degree that the individual engages and expresses her unique capacities. In this model, the authenticity of the business owner equates to greater world service and greater value exchanged.

A slightly different business model is: identify a need and fill it. This model places emphasis on one’s ability to accurately find a target market with a clearly definable need and to develop products and services to fill that need. So the need becomes the primary alignment factor in making strategic decisions and all other considerations are secondary.

A third model is: create a business to sell. This model places an emphasis on creating systems that anyone could direct. The business intention is to create measurable value which builds so the business can be sold at a profit and run successfully by the new owner. Thus clearly defined, detailed procedures and universal systems are the aligning business building criteria. Franchising is an example of this model in action.

It’s important to not be fundamentally rigid in your thinking because value can be gained by adopting principles of each model. Certain situations are best addressed by being flexible and applying the best from many models. This works as long as you first choose one model as your primary decision-making guide.

2). Be aware of semantical judgments.

For example, I’ve always preferred the phrase “true calling” to “life purpose.” For me, “life purpose” seems too permanent or rigid. I prefer “true calling” because it feels right to be called from within to my vocation. However, if I allowed my bias to direct my decision-making, I’d deny myself the available wisdom that’s offered in the language of life purpose. Look for useful wisdom and value regardless of the implied word meanings that it comes packaged within. This is another one of those sticking points that we need to be aware of. We just can’t see what we can’t see so use these filters to check for hidden sludge points.

3). First – be your own counsel.

There is no shortage of business advice available to us; but it’s often not presented in a way that can be easily adapted to our unique needs and abilities. It’s critical to identify the potential personal value of outside influences so we can separate useful tools from wrong path distractions.

Since we are constantly motivated by our unmet needs and by our drive to feel better, we’re frequently tempted to rush to a solution because a well-written offer appears to satisfy an emotional craving.

Essentially, every decision we make is made to relieve tension or to achieve an objective. Unfortunately, when we make a decision for tension relief – the relief is only temporary. That’s why it’s necessary to have a solid grounding in your own proactively determined, strategic decisions.

First, decide exactly what you want – then business building becomes simpler because your choices are less.

Have you stepped back and considered the big picture?

Ideally and specifically, what about your business do you want to experience differently next year? Use this chart to decide.

1). Add additional criteria if it’s lacking for you.
2). Decide if you want more or less of each, next year.
3). Rank the criteria in order of importance with 1 being the most important.
4). Looking at what you want, write out a description that energizes you.
5). Further solidify your vision by frequently feeling its manifestation as if you were already in the midst of living it.

Make your description powerfully attractive so you’ll want to power it up frequently. There are many effective tools available to accomplish this, from vision boards to mind movies. I like to record my own declaration, in present moment language, of the ideal business I’m in the midst of building. I record it with baroque classical music playing in the background and listen to it frequently.

Don’t be too concerned with the “how to” just yet. Options will gradually surface as you ground your vision by clearly deciding and committing to what you want. In my next post, I’ll share some tools to zoom in on actions that you can do now. From the vantage point of a grounded vision, we’ll discuss how to stretch your beliefs beyond what you see as possible.

Let’s talk. Do you have a business vision that pumps you up? What about your ranking surprised you? What business model are you following?


  1. Speaking from my experience, it’s the hardest part to first develop your business vision that feels good enough to commit to, important enough to stick with it.

    Up until recently, I didn’t have a business model/vision that wasn’t “mine” enough. I’d try existing models here and there, and whenever I got stuck, I’d give up.

    I wish I’d thought counsel on these issues sooner.


    Ari Koinumas last blog post..The 7 Keys to Breaking Bad Habits

  2. Hi Tom – this is a really useful exercise. If folk don’t do something like this, they can easily be swayed by the influence of those folk who believe there’s only one right business model. And when that happens it’s easy to go off in the wrong direction.

    I was planning a business which would have meant employing a heap of folk again and thinking about the build and sell approach. But I was struggling, then I realised it was because that isn’t what I really want. I’m just not in a hurry to employ folk again and I’d rather spend time working alone and developing my own products and services.

  3. Suzanne Bird-Harris | vAssistant Services says:

    Do I have a business vision that pumps me up? Absolutely! I am fortunate enough to be living that vision right now, too.

    What about my ranking surprised me? Well, first – I used your list from the table above, without adding any other criteria. The surprises were how high I ranked wanting to do more collaborative projects and that I didn’t say I wanted to work less hours weekly. I actually like the number of hours I work right now. What I want to increase are the billable ones. lol

    What business model am I following? A combination of the first two you listed. Given that, I don’t see how I could really ever “sell” my business, because it’s built so much around me. In many ways, I am the product or service.

    But, you have a point when you say value can be gained by adopting principles of each model. Last year I had some exposure to the principles of building a business to sell it and I remember some that I could apply to my business that would glean more of what I want from it and faster, too. I’m going to have to go back and find that information and review it again!

    And thank you for the mention in this article. I promise not to get a case of the ‘big head’. 🙂

    Suzanne Bird-Harris | vAssistant Servicess last blog post..10 Bloggers’ Checklists You Should Review Today

  4. Ari – Excellent point. I know you’ve done the work and trying on other models is important to see what fits. Now that you have a model that supports who you are, it indeed will be smoother sailing for you.

    Cath – Yes, we all need to do the inner work to be true to our choices. I was one of those folks who used to get swayed and for me it just lead to a lot of non-completions. The marketplace pays us for completions. That’s where the value is, so sometimes we need to put the world on pause and make some decisions. I agree, having had both the solopreneur route is so much simpler to maintain and build.

  5. Hi Tom. This was brilliant. I fell all over this with a Stumble! 🙂 I like the idea of taking a wide angle view at the Big Picture. Then you can decide on the best path to take from that perspective.

    Davinas last blog post..When Fear Closes In, Take Action

  6. I’m all about the big picture. If you can get the right big picture going then all the details fall into place naturally which means you don’t have to worry about them.

    As for business models, I’m definitely the first one – I use my empathy and pattern-finding abilities to help others, and I teach by example – doing first then sharing. My business fits who I am and vice versa.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..Success Comes from Slow Change: Leo Babauta Interview

  7. I have a combination of all three models. I targeted a precise need in the Texas schools and designed my business to exactly address the need. I also decided to address the need in a way that is totally me. While developing my business, my partner and I established systems for the save of efficiency and productivity. While we want to not lose our teacher persona when communicating with our customers, we still have to have a system that will not allow us to lose track of who we talked to and what we said. We use ACT a software that follows our communications and brings up the history when we talk to a customer. I also have used a mind mapping site (free) that helped with recognizing and recording all the various aspects of our business. We then could color code different areas and assign the manager of the topic. We return back to the map to reflect, review, and revise. It has really helped.

    I am working on the chart that you included in your post. It will really help as we are strategically planning this month. I can’t wait to see what you offer in your next post. I know it will be another jewel. Tom, thank you for sharing your wisdom. I would highly recommend your coaching to anyone wanting to dive into the freedom of self employment. Have a wonderful day. I know I will!

  8. Davina – I appreciate the Stumble! yes zooming out is the only way I know to be sure to see everything when planning. I like the idea of developing my own mini-empire first on paper, then in mind and finally in manifestation.

    Suzanne – thank you, I always appreciate it when a commenter actually answers the very questions that I raise. 🙂 The praise is well-deserved because you had to intend to work more authentically and then you actually followed through on it. That makes you a cut above. You could have been referring to Micheal Gerber’s book the E-Myth revisited, because the build to sell model is one he recommends. You’re right there are lots of good principles within that we can apply.

    Laurie – for a school teacher you really have your business shit together. Actually for a business owner you have it together pretty well. Wise of you to blend what you need to make it work.
    I particularly like how you and your partner have kept true to your teacher roots while making savvy business decisions.

    Alex – You seem to have a good handle on your strengths and that’s very necessary in the authentic business building model.
    I absolutely admire you for observing and declaring your pattern-finding abilities. That’s a very useful strength in many areas of business.

  9. As I mentioned in my Stumble, this is the first time I literally took notes while reading a blog! This is very powerful information and I appreciate you taking the time to share this insight w/ us. I’m working off the Authentic Business Building model while incorporating essential parts of the Find the Need and Fill It model.

    I’m working out the details based on this post…..

    Create a Balance is the __________ to support ____________ who want _____________.

    Once I narrow in on the blanks, that is who I will write for and serve! The “who” is the hardest part for me. My initial authentic belief is the “who” would be moms. Then I met outstanding authentic dads and don’t want to leave them out of the picture. Then there are those incredible men and women searching for and practicing the art of life balance and I don’t want to exclude them either. I am resisting narrowing down my target market. Any suggestions?

    Stacey / Create a Balances last blog post..Life Balance Quotes

  10. This was an awesome article. I couldn’t have come across this at a better time as I am trying to get my own business going within the next month or so. I’m still soaking up all the stuff I can. Your post and your readers are very helpful.

    Michaels last blog post..Employment Agreements in the Pharmaceutical Industry

  11. Evelyn Lim says:


    Thanks for the link love!! Best of all, you’ve written a solid piece of article, well worth stumbling!!

    I’m going to have consider seriously about having a business model into next year. I like your authentic business model. I believe that it is one that will bring out the best in a person and hence, the greatest satisfaction and most happiness.

    I realize now that I have been previously following the second business model on “identify a need and fill it”. It did not work out for me!!

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..Emotional Secrets To The Physical Body

  12. Tom,

    You are spot on! This is a great tool that will inspire a “scanner” like me to stay focused and continue to improve my brands.

    Like Stacey, I am working off the Authentic Business Building model while incorporating essential parts of the Find the Need and Fill It model.

    You are an inspiration! Thank you.

    Shanns last blog post..Every 12 Seconds A Woman Awakens Her Personal Power!

  13. Hi Tom
    I Stumbled & bookmarked your post, as I am sure I’ll be coming back for reference. It’s so easy to lose your way on the path to your goals.

    You said:
    “Since we are constantly motivated by our unmet needs and by our drive to feel better, we’re frequently tempted to rush to a solution because a well-written offer appears to satisfy an emotional craving.”

    I think you must have been writing about me as that seems to be the story of my life.

    I started my current business on “identify a need and fill it” model and have adopted the “create a business to sell” model. I don’t have any plans to sell but I want to know that option is available later on if I need or want to sell. The latter model also well suited for situations like letting your children take over the business.

  14. Great post Tom,

    I think that starting planning with a broader “zoomed out” view is very useful and helps to put various operations in place first before you move on to the more technical aspects. Like you said, you will face less internal resistance this way. Laying this broad foundation right away will make it easier for your business to stay the course and for the internal processes of your business to, as you said, remain “congruent”.

    I think it is vitally important for all business to include some type of plan or process for dealing with change. The quicker a business can adapt to change, the more competitive they are than the slower, big guys who don’t adapt so quickly.

  15. Stacey – Thanks for your words of recognition and the stumble! Regarding your resistance, can you identify the fear behind it? If you can then ask yourself if you have any proof that this will occur. Often the fears behind resistance are not anywhere near valid.

    Regarding your search for niche, try this. Instead of serving some demographic like moms or dads, try a psycho-graphic. Meaning how a certain group thinks. The other thing you can do is narrow the last part and keep who you serve broad. Nail what your target group wants to do and you won’t have to worry about who they are.

    Shann – Thanks so much. I’m a scanner myself but there are no rules against strategic and grounded scanning. 🙂

    Evelyn – I do appreciate the Stumble and the lift in your praise! Thank you. Yes the authentic model is a great fit for you and now is the time to plan for it.

    Matt – Welcome man. I appreciate you taking the time to visit. I’ve found that without the big picture my tasks aren’t as coordinated and I don’t complete as many meaningful ones. I’m also a big fan of stopping, observing and adjusting as needed.

  16. Thanks for the advice. I like the idea of a psycho-graphic instead of a demographic. What a liberating concept!

    Stacey / Create a Balances last blog post..Share This Free eBook!

  17. Michael – Welcome I’m glad you enjoyed it. Sorry I missed you earlier. I had to rescue you from the spam folder. Yes, I love the way my readers get engaged in the discussion. Return again and let us know how your new business shapes up.

    Mark – Thanks for the stumble. Yeah, I can definitely relate. There are so many folks out there throwing life preservers in the form of offers. But we’ve got to all be the ones who save our own asses. Nobody cares about you as much as you do. So you are the one who needs to man up and take care of business.

    Stacey – Your welcome, please come back and tell us what your target group is thinking.

  18. Tom,

    Personally, I have never actually been in business for myself before, so I am speaking here from theory and not from practical experience.

    However, I would imagine that many small business owners become stuck working within the detail of their business, particularly now when many are no doubt finding it difficult just to keep their head above water. No doubt it must be easy, in this environment to lose focus on the bigger picture that you speak of.

    The start of a new year should provide an ideal opportunity for small business owners to step back and consider the bigger questions – where their business is going, what they want to achieve and whether they are on target to achieve their business goals and objectives.

    Andrews last blog post..Why firms should pay bills on time

  19. Christine|the bonbon life says:


    This is a great article with important points to take to heart–especially for those who haven’t yet gone into business. Stumbled. 🙂

    It is useful because when people are still trying to figure out their ideal business, their mind feels pulled in a million different directions. Some sort of framework is necessary.

    You and I spoke about the “zooming” in and out aspect and I find it to be a great way to bring focus to my plans as well as guide me toward the best action steps. Dealing with the myriad advice being thrown at us from different directions can be especially daunting. We need to trust ourselves more when it comes to building our own business–I think that would help alleviate many of the things that stop us.

    Christine|the bonbon lifes last blog post..Perfectionism Has No Place in Small Business

  20. Tom,

    This is a great write up and absolutely inspirational for where I currently am in my life. I feel like I’m constantly being pushed here and there for my time and I can’t really figure out where I should dedicate my time, efforts, finances, etc.

    Your post was inspiring because it allowed me to take an objective look at the things that really mattered in my life and to put them in focus. I’ve been battling my ability to contain and control where I put my time and effort into. I feel like I was working and doing things for other people rather than myself and my life.

    Thank you truly,

  21. Tom;
    Thanks. This is all great advice. I especially like the big vision focus yet I find that this is a challenge for most of my clients who get hung up in the “how” before they even finish creating the vision. This often will paralyze them from their brainstorming about the bigger picture. As you know, that’s where a good business coach can help out and move them forward.

  22. Andrew – Welcome. Yes economic challenges do cause small business owners to try to fix the symptoms for short term gain rather than stepping back and looking at the big picture.

    Bonnie – Welcome. Clients often get caught up trying to figure out the why before they align with a grander vision. That’s when I challenge them to wake up and step back until they can see all the connections. Keep up the good work; the world need more coaches who know what’s up.

    Christine – I agree, structure, processes and frameworks are excellent grounding tools that allow us to place things in their proper perspective. You can’t beat the combination of zooming out and authentic grounding. Thanks for the stumble!

    Franklin – Welcome. I’m pleased that it hit you right. I hope you’ve been able to make some decisions as a result. be sure to tune in for the next post for follow-through actions.

  23. Creating a foundation for your business is what is most important in the beginning. That means clear goals and clear action. I make mistakes in clear action.

    I’m working on making my vision more clear. It’s not easy, but I think about my business every single day and how to best make it grow.

    Karl Staib – Work Happy Nows last blog post..So You Want a Boost to Your Career? Try Seth Godin’s MBA program

  24. Karl – The key of course is to think highly of your business every day. Release the worries and doubts and see yourself kicking ass and taking names!

Speak Your Mind