You’re excited about your latest project for your business. You have a big goal and you know this project will help you meet it. But instead of working on it, every day you get caught up in all the things you “have to do.” Answering emails. Pinning a certain number of pins. Curating that beautiful Instagram feed.
If this is happening to you, then you need to step back and look at the big picture.
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What is meant by the big picture in business?
“Big picture” is a hard term to define.
I did a Google search on “what is the big picture in business” and, while it returned a lot of articles, there wasn’t a definitive answer. Most of the articles focus on large organizations and how important it is to share the big picture with your team. But that isn’t very helpful for solopreneurs.
I think it’s easier to get an understanding of what the big picture is by looking at what it is not. It’s not the small day-to-day details. It’s not any individual product or service. It’s not any single strategy.
In Getting Things Done, David Allen uses an altitude metaphor to describe what he calls “horizons of focus.” It’s a good way to understand the concept because the metaphor gives you a framework for how to see the big picture in your business. The higher you go, the more you see.
- 0 feet – the runway: this is the day to day, where you are focused on your calendar and next actions
- 10,000 feet – projects: all the balls you have in the air at any given time
- 20,000 feet – areas of responsibility: in your solopreneur business, this would be all the different hats you wear, like CEO, CFO, marketing, product development, etc.
- 30,000 feet – 1-to 2-year goals and objectives
- 40,000 feet – 3-to 5-year vision
- 50,000 feet – purpose and values
Why is the big picture important?
The big picture is all about perspective. It helps you to figure out (and later remember) why you do what you do and what you should focus on at any given time.
The big picture is the foundation of your business. When the going gets tough (and it will get tough), the big picture will help you keep moving forward.
The big picture is what ultimately drives growth and success.
How to see the big picture
As we saw in the altitude metaphor above, the big picture has several elements. Each element will help you see the big picture. Let’s take a deeper dive into each one and how it can help you in your solopreneur business.
Get clear on your mission
Many businesses have a purpose statement or a mission statement. A mission statement explains why your business exists and its core purpose. What do you do, who do you do it for, and why?
Getting clear on your mission gives you a benchmark to assess opportunities and ideas against. Will this opportunity help you fulfill your mission? If not, then it should be a pass.
Keep your mission statement short and sweet. If it’s so long that you can’t remember it, it won’t serve its purpose, which is to keep you focused on your real priorities.
A mission statement doesn’t have to be a formal piece of writing displayed in a framed poster on the wall (this is what we did in my corporate days). However, you do want to keep it where you can see and refer to it often. If you’re crafty, you might want to make a cute printable and put it in your office. Or you can include it on your website. Even a post-it note stuck to your monitor will work.
What do you value?
Values are an integral part of your mission – your “why.” You’ll sometimes see this big picture element referred to as “core values,” or “brand values.” Regardless of the specific term used, we are talking about the values that you want to stay true to in your business.
Think about what is important to you and your business. What makes your business special and unique? Choose a few words or phrases that resonate with you and that you want to make sure stay top of mind. Don’t overthink this.
One of my personal core values and a core value for my business is abundance. I want to help people build a business that allows them to live life to the fullest, with the courage to set big goals and the belief that they can make anything happen.
You may end up using your core values in your mission statement. Or you can share your values on your website, like Reina + Co or Ashlyn Writes. Or just keep your list visible for yourself. At the end of the day, your values should be so memorable, so much a part of your business, that you don’t need to see them.
Vision is about the future
Your vision is about the future. It’s bigger than a goal. Vision “defines what success looks like to you and expresses what you are striving for.”
Vision defines what success looks like to you and expresses what you are striving for.
Many businesses have a vision statement. Another option is to create a vision board. A vision board is a visual representation of what is important to you and what you are trying to achieve. Vision statements and vision boards are inspirational. They’ll keep you going when you’re tired and working the grind.
As you craft your vision statement or create your board, think about these questions:
- What’s your passion?
- What inspires you?
- What are your goals & dreams?
- What puts a smile on your face?
- What do you love to do?
Your vision will likely change as your business grows. And keep in mind that you can hit your vision many times. For now, concentrate on your vision for the next three to five years.
What do you want to achieve in the next year or two?
Big picture goals look one to two years in the future. Maybe you want to want to be able to quit your day job or retire your husband. Maybe you want to travel all the time, living the laptop lifestyle. Maybe you want to bring a new product line to market. Maybe you want to be a nationally recognized expert in your field.
These are all big goals that you could accomplish in a year or two (depending, of course, on where you are now).
Big goals should be tangible and specific. When you don’t have a clear goal, you can’t figure out the best way to get there, because you don’t know exactly where you’re going.
If you’re going the vision board route, then by all means, include some pictures that represent your one- to two-year goals. They’ll help keep you motivated and working toward those milestones.
Map out your strategies
With vision and goals, you were answering the question “where do I want my business to go?” Now, it’s time to figure out how you are going to get there.
You’ll likely have many different strategies that you are working on in your business. Marketing strategy, monetization strategy, sales strategy, social media strategy, content strategy, operations strategy, product strategy, etc.
Everything you’ve done to this point will feed into your strategies. They are your road map to get where you want to go.
Strategies are your road map to get where you want to go.
Make your business plans
Your plan consists of the specific projects and action steps that you are going to take to execute your strategies and achieve your goals.
I like to create a high-level annual strategic plan that links back to my vision and big-picture goals. Choose a few broad projects that you want to tackle over the course of the year, but don’t get too far in the weeds.
For example, one of my strategies this year is to focus more on video content. To keep it simple, I set a goal to make and publish 50 videos this year, but I don’t go into the specific types of content in my annual strategic plan.
Your 90-day business plans are where you get into the nitty-gritty details. Break your annual plan down into smaller action steps that you can complete in three months. Going back to my video strategy, my current 90-day plan includes a project to repurpose five to seven existing blog posts into video and publish them on YouTube.
Keep your eye on the big picture
After you’ve done the work to clarify your big picture, don’t just put it aside.
Keep your vision statement or vision board where you can see it and then look at it every day. It will remind you of what you’re working toward and help you stay focused.
When you are presented with a business decision, test it against your big picture. Does it align with your mission and values? Will it help you reach your vision and achieve your big goals?
Looking at the big picture in your business is a skill which can really lead to success.
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