The 5 Skills of Entrepreneurship – Vision

This is one part of an ongoing series on In this article, we're discussing the skill of vision.

Our program, Entrepreneur Journey, focuses on teaching high school students how to become entrepreneurs. Part of this is learning the skills of an entrepreneur, including vision. Vision is about looking to future outcomes. It refers to the ability to "see what is unseen." It allows the entrepreneur to see the big picture.

Think about Lewis Carrol’s classic novel, Alice in Wonderland, when Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which road she should take. “Where do you want to go?” The Cheshire Cat asks Alice. When Alice said she didn’t know, the Cheshire Cat said, “Then it doesn’t matter.”

With vision, we can define where we go. And for the entrepreneur, vision is critical.

What does it take to have the skill of vision?

Vision Versus Goals

Often times, entrepreneurs get wrapped up in their current goals. Goals are important, but they are meant to be measurable steps that allow entrepreneurs to maintain the much more important vision. Making smaller, achievable goals can move you forward toward the big-picture outcome.

Vision is the destination, goals are means to help you get to the destination.

The Beginning, The End, But No Middle

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, The Lord of the Rings, the character Frodo Baggins is faced with the difficult challenge of destroying the ring. Did he know the steps to doing that? Not at all, but he knew what his vision was.

The beginning is where the entrepreneur is right now. The end is the vision of what they want to achieve. The middle is the journey, which is not clear, and it is hard to identify the specific steps one will take. Entrepreneurs need to accept the ambiguity of the middle in order to be successful.

The 90% Rule

Whatever vision you accept, recognize you are likely to achieve only 90%. Because of this, it makes sense to aim higher rather than lower. If you want to make a million dollars, you’ll most likely make $900,000. If your goal is to make $100,000, you’ll most likely make $90,000.

Which is better?

Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs)

In Jim Collins' book Good to Great, he notes that companies that perform best have a goal that is audacious. BHAGs impact the thinking of those building the business and lead to greater motivation than do goals that are modest.

Think about how differently things would have gone if Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, and Sergey Brin didn’t shoot for the stars. They may have started local businesses instead of international companies.

It's About The Small Decisions!

It is easy to mistakenly think that big decisions lead to sudden success.

Think about the plot of your favorite movie. Movies distill life into a series of momentous outcomes from critical decisions. But life doesn’t really work this way.

In life, the accumulation of small decisions is what matters. When you have a goal, you can assess small choices to determine whether they fit your journey toward the goal or not.

Vision Statements

To help solidify a vision in the entrepreneur's mind, he or she will often create a vision statement. Here’s an example of how to create a vision statement.

That vision statement will help you stay focused and make sure your actions are pointing you in the right direction, toward the world you want to create.