Ever want to run away and join the circus?

What’s the importance of having a clear “vision” for your company or product? I’ll illustrate this with famous examples of the Ford Motor Company.

First, I’ll give you the positive example of the Model T, which was produced from 1908 until 1928. As Henry Ford himself said “I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”

The Ford Model T was voted “the most influential car of the 20th century.”

On the other hand is the Ford model which came out some fifty years later and has become synonymous with product failure – the Ford Edsel. The Edsel’s failure has been attributed to many reasons, marketing, design, pricing etc. Underneath it all, thought, was a lack of clarity as to what the car was supposed to be.

What about if your old vision just isn’t working any more? Here’s an example of an existing company clarifying its vision and changing in order to survive in a changing world. After 100 years the F. W. Woolworth Co was the largest department store chain in the world. A little over ten years later Wal-Mart edged out the F. W. Woolworth Company as the biggest department store chain. Woolworth then adapted by focusing on the subsidiary of the company that was still thriving and changed their name to Foot Locker, under which name they exist today.

The endeavors that had a clear vision from the start are the ones you remember today, the ones that are still around today. It’s not enough to say ‘I want a successful restaurant.’ What are you going to serve and how is that better than the restaurants that are out there now?

Clarifying your vision is very personal. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else. It has to harness your passion. For example, our ten year old son said to us the other day, “I want to go downtown, fold dollar bills into bow ties and sell them.” Not wanting to step on his goals I went along. I did suggest that he learn to do more than one dollar origami creation. So he learned how to fold a duck in addition to the bow ties and off we went. I told him not to be disappointed if it didn’t go as well as he envisioned. Well, after two and a half hours he had made around sixty dollars. I am so glad I didn’t immediately say something like “It’ll never work, think of something else.”

Of course it probably wouldn’t work if I tried something like that, and it definitely helps that he’s ten years old, but he is good at it. He can stop a group of people walking down the street and interest them in what he is doing. They can’t help but give him money.

You’ll hear people say that your vision has to be at least somewhat based in reality, and that’s probably true. However, Mandy and I know a grandmother who ran away to join the circus at 53 years old. Now, after 20 successful years in the circus, she happily works as a wrangler for a group of trained chickens who play bingo in casinos around the country. Yup, this lady sure knows how to monetize – and activate – her vision!

Wayne Porter
Monetize Your Vision Coach, Social Media Strategist