The following dialogue is taken from Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland between Alice and the Chesire Cat when Alice asks the cat:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
To some all of this up: “If you don’t know where you are going it doesn’t matter how you get there”.
As we get stuck into 2013 I thought it would be a good idea to ask the question “Why are you doing what you do, where is your business going?” and “What are you doing to get it there?”
The process of doing this is known as Strategic Planning, which takes a look at your Vision, Mission, Strategy and Structure.
Defining your vision can be a little harder than you think. It’s about answering the question “What do you want?”
For many this is easy because they were very specific in why they started their business and would have had a very clear image of their dream. Others may have taken over the salon where they worked because the previous owner wanted to go into semi-retirement and you now own a salon without ever really having planned on owning one. Whatever the reason it is important to think about your vision, even if you have been running your salon for many years.
Your vision for your salon is your dream or inspiration that drives you to action, it’s the long term idea of what you ultimately want your salon to be.
Your vision statement could be a simple one liner like: “Helping people feel good about themselves” or it could be longer and more literal like: “We want to be a place where you enjoy a relaxing experience, the highest quality services, knowledgeable and friendly staff, products we are passionate about at prices that are fair”. A vision is something that you want to be known for, the outcome of which is measurable. For example you may want to be known as “The biggest salon group in the country”. As time goes on you will be able to measure whether this has come true or not.
An example of a vision statement from well-known company Amazon is as follows: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
If you don’t have a vision statement then take the time to think about one and write it down. Chances are you have a vision or dream but have never put it in writing. Try and keep it as short as possible and share it with your employees with the goal of getting them to share in this vision so that they are motivated to work towards it.
If you do have a vision statement take time to consider it and see if it still holds true for you. If not then think about where you may have lost your way and how you can get back on track.
Mission is different from vision in that it is more about what you will do rather than what you want to be. A mission statement defines why your business exists in the context of achieving your vision, i.e. it defines how your business is the mechanism for achieving your vision and what it does to achieve it.
For a hair salon it could be that in order to achieve the vision of being a salon that helps people feel good about themselves their mission will be: “To listen to and understand the needs of individuals from all walks of life and offer them the hairstyling understanding, skill, experience and products they need in order to realize their desire to feel beautiful and confident.”
For a salon that has the vision of being the biggest salon group, the mission may be to secure locations in all major shopping centres throughout the country as this will give the best chance of becoming the biggest salon group.
A mission statement starts to refine what is required in order to achieve your vision and starts to answer how the vision will be achieved.
The strategy further refines the plan for achieving your vision through your mission. It is the process of plotting out the actions you are going to take in order to achieve your mission. The strategy will be far more specific than the mission and the vision and more tangible.
For example, in the mission statement above your strategy might include only employing stylists that have a certain amount of experience (in life and in hair styling), or who have excellent product knowledge. It may be that you will include frequent product training and even training in communication so that stylists are able to effectively listen to the needs of your clients. It could be that you do market research to better understand the mindset of the average salon goer and what their aspirations are.
The strategy for the group wanting to be the biggest in the country would include the actions required in order to get into every major shopping centre.
The structure part of the process is where you start mobilizing the troops and actually putting your plan into action. Therefore, it could be that you need to re-assign staff within your organization in order to focus on market research and communicating with your clients. This could end up being you and may be a big change if you are only used to cutting hair all day long. You may wish to appoint one person with your business who is responsible for quality control and ensuring that all stylists service levels and product knowledge is up to standard. You may give greater focus to getting feedback from your clients to find out how they felt after leaving your salon so that you c an measure if you are achieving your goals. An important part of the structure is the motivational incentives you put in place for when staff reach their goals. This will again be measurable.
A good exercise to embark on as part of your strategic planning (and specifically the Vision activity) is to take a good look at your current state of affairs (situational analysis) so that you know where you are in relation to where you want to be. This will involve looking at all the factors inside and outside your salon that have influenced (and still do influence) how you arrived at the point you are currently at.
I like what is known as the 5C Analysis method for doing this, which includes taking a look at your Company and how well it is positioned and performing to meet its objectives based on what it sells and how it sells them.
Then an analysis of your Competitors, which is crucial as you not only need to know who and where they are but also what, how and why they are doing has bearing on your business.
A look at your Clients will let you know who they are, where they come from, what appeals to them, what they can afford to spend, how frequently they come to your salon, what they buy etc.
Identify your Collaborators and the influence they have on your business. This will be your product suppliers and other strategic partners like your accountant, I.T service providers, landlord etc. Relationships with these collaborators can have a big influence on the direction of your business.
And finally analyse the Climate in which you conduct your business. An analysis of the climate can also be known as a PEST analysis, which is Political or Regulatory (ie association or government legislation that has bearing on your business), Economic (ie interest rates, inflation and even exchange rates that may directly or indirectly affect you), Social or Cultularal environment (ie changes in trends or demographics that may affect you), Technology and how changes in this arena affect you (ie social media, management software etc).
Having a vision leads to obvious questions being raised as to how you will achieve that vision and leads to putting a strategic plan into place. Take some time to do the exercise of strategic planning as you will find it very refreshing and will more than likely put some purpose back into all the smaller things in your daily routine that may have lost their meaning along the way. And if you follow through you will substantially increase your chances of making your dreams come true.