In the July 2016 issue of Cleanfax, I shared the importance of having your life goals in mind. That is the first step in creating a successful company.

The second step in the process of creating a successful company is about vision.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” You know how it is. You read an article or go to a seminar and get an idea, but you never do anything about it. I’ve done that.

Worse, we wake up every day with no vision. We just get through the day. Here’s one of the most important questions you could ever ask yourself as a business owner:

“Why did I go into this business to start with?”

Was it to make a lot of money? Or was it to be your own boss, to chart your own course or to have a little more free time?

How did that work out for you?

The brutal reality

The brutal reality of most business owners’ lives is they feel like slaves to their businesses. There’s very little family time, the business consumes your mind 24/7, there’s no real freedom, you feel like you have a job rather than a business and your day is consumed by putting out fires.

Recently, I was speaking with a new coaching client’s wife, and she was emotionally distraught because she was worried her husband would kill himself working day and night.

This owner is completely overwhelmed because he tries do everything himself. He’s angry because two of his key people walked out, and he’s worried because he forgets appointments. He answers every phone call, goes on every job and does all the paperwork.

He’s literally a prisoner of his own making. What’s his future? Is this the life he went into business for? Is this the vision he anticipated years ago?

No.

I know how that guy feels because I felt like that.

Create a vision for your business

After a few years in business, I became frustrated because I had to do everything myself and because I had not figured out how to hire and lead the right people.

I was angry because when I did tell my employees what to do, they didn’t do it because I didn’t know how to lead.

I was overwhelmed because I was trying to carry the entire load because I didn’t have any systems.

So, what changed? I got a new vision for my company. I read The E-Myth Revisited, a book by my good friend Michael Gerber. After reading that book, my vision became clear: I would have a turnkey cleaning business that ran without me.

Is that even possible? It is. But that might not be your vision. Your vision is what’s important. Start by simply creating a vision for your business one year from today. Use paper or a computer document; it doesn’t matter as long as long as you do it.

Now, describe the business you want one year from now. Create a picture of your business. You have to see the picture in your mind before it becomes reality. A vision is a picture. The more inspiring the picture is, the more exciting it is to you and the more you’ll engage your mind, will and emotion to accomplish it.

The first thing you need to be successful is inspiration. Inspiration comes from desire, and desire comes from a vision. If you won’t visualize your preferred future, someone else will. If you can’t create the picture, you’ll end up somewhere by accident. Do you want your business success to be by accident?

Do you want to grow? My guess is that you aren’t completely satisfied with where your business is right now.

Paint the picture

Start with your daily schedule. What do you want your daily schedule to look like?

Remember the life goals you did last month? There’s a great exercise I do called “The Perfect Day.” Where do you wake up? Whom are you with? What do you do in the morning, throughout the day and in the evening?

Think about the things you are doing right now that you don’t like to do (or that you’re not good at), and take those out of the picture. Think about the parts you love to do, and keep those in the picture.

Don’t worry about how you’ll accomplish the vision. Instead, focus on why you want it.

Maybe it is spending more time with your family. Maybe it is performing a ministry or community service, or perhaps you just wish to work 50 hours a week instead of 80.

Just write it down. If it is meaningful to you, write it down.

Maybe the picture includes being at little league with your child. Maybe it means date night with your spouse once a week. Maybe it means actually having dinner with the family every night. Remember, don’t worry about how, just what and why for now.

Now, visualize how much money you want to make and how you’ll use that money. Maybe you have debt you want to pay off. Maybe you want a new car. Maybe you need equipment for your business. Think about how much money you’ll need to generate in your business. Don’t worry, you’ll plan that out in the next steps, but — for now — just put something down.

What staff or equipment do you want to add to your business this year? Are there services you wish to add? Are there services you need to get rid of? Which systems have you built in this picture of the future?

Does your picture inspire you? If it doesn’t, you won’t pursue it. Does it make you nervous? If it doesn’t, it’s too easy.

Challenge yourself. You can do more than you think you can. If you take the time to visualize a better, more meaningful future for yourself and your family, you’ll create the energy to build it.

Without a clearly defined vision for the future, you’ll be forced to focus on the present (or worse — the past) and ultimately be enslaved by it.

In order to be phenomenally successful, you need a phenomenal vision. Look at that picture every day every day, and update it as you go along.

The next step will be to assess where you are and put a plan in place to figure out how you’ll make this vision a reality. A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Howard Partridge started his cleaning business from the trunk of his car over 31 years ago and built it up to over $3M per year. For two decades Partridge has been coaching cleaning and restoration companies, teaching them to have phenomenal success. He is the exclusive small business coach for Ziglar Inc., the world’s first Ziglar Legacy Trainer, the founding member of the John Maxwell Coaching Team, a DISC Certified Trainer, a ONE THING Certified Trainer and a four-time Amazon.com No. 1 bestselling author.