The market decides what it wants. It decides how good you are and at what price consumers/clients/buyers are willing to pay for you. That means you need to get really clear and articulate about the value you’re bringing to the market. Big fluffy mission statements that try to reach everyone are just an exercise for boards and executive teams that makes them feel good about themselves that day.
No joke, a mission statement doesn’t cut it any more. Having your vision statement or your core beliefs taped up in a common space or over your computer monitor will only marginally motivate you and your stakeholders. In order to get the commitment and the engagement from yourself and your customers or audience, you need to be able to deliver value and communicate that value in a universally understood language. In other words you have to let your value show everyone in the market that you are worth paying attention to. Once you get clear about that it’s at the crossroads of value and meaningful communication where you will find strategic aspirations.
There has been a lot of buzz around the word “aspiration” lately. I hear it in the business audiobooks I listen too, the blogs I read and all over the Harvard Business Review site. Large businesses use aspirations to paint a picture of what the world will look like in the future when every consumer utilizes their product or service. If you’re struggling for an example to visualize, I will happily oblige by offering you the imagery of the “Buy ‘n’ Large” mega-corporation from Disney’s Wall-E. Talk about the future of consumerism... But what does it mean to the independent entrepreneur who is out there everyday hustling to find success?
You aren’t “Buy ‘n’ Large” and this isn’t a Disney Movie.
Your strategic aspiration is your conceptualized view of what success looks like. It’s the scenario you play in your head of what your business looks like when it’s firing on all cylinders. That means you delivering your most valuable work to the people or businesses that need it most. That also means that you have to work everyday at clarifying what your aspirations are - especially because they can change and that’s ok!
Strategic aspirations are not daydreaming and well wishing. They are not empty intentions. Your aspirations are the foundations of the strategic choices you make going forward and will guide your allocation of resources. As an entrepreneur you are constantly making choices and are constantly battling resource constraints. Often your aspirations will help you make the best possible choices by default (with a little practice that is). Getting crystal clear in your aspirations will help you evaluate your choice outcomes and navigate them in a way that produces outcomes that will move you closer to realizing your aspirations.
The neat thing about strategic aspirations is that you don’t need a gimmick to remember them. Because you put in the work to figure out what success looks like, feels like, and even smells like your aspirations should be resonating with you to your core.
As an entrepreneur or a professional with entrepreneurial tendencies, life is a constant balancing act. Aspirations provide the framework for how your business will behave and a systematic way of checking in with yourself. At this point if you like your taped document or stick notes above your computer you can put them back up. Only if you are really clear about what success looks like. When you do the work and get to the core of clearly identifying success for your business you can start to deconstruct it into steps you can take daily to get there.
After I get clear on my aspirations what happens?
I have a very simplified set of tips or tactics that you can implement right now. Not overly complicated and not overly difficult.
Decide What Matters: Figure out how you are going to measure success. Here, the fewer the metrics the better.
Everyday Action: Figure out what you have to do daily to get you to your aspirations.
Week/Monthly Action: Work in time to evaluate how your weeks/months are going based on what you’ve done and what you decided matters.
Quarterly/Annually Action: These are the things that have to happen for your business to grow as you want it. Your individual daily actions might not necessarily provide the direct outcomes needed to get here but they should be building to these goals or plan.
That’s it. The hardest part is not the planning, especially because that can change. The hardest part is deciding what’s important and then doing the WORK! So figure out what you can do daily to help push your aspirations forward and take some kind of action today!