When I made the jump in 2019 from employee with a side hustle in communications to full-time freelancer, I thought that I had made “The Big Decision.” I would work for myself, and that was a huge leap.

Then, as my portfolio began to grow, I was asked by a client if I was planning to grow my team, or take investment, or scale up in some other way. What, after all, did I want to build?

Those weren’t questions that I’d given much thought to, and as it turns out, when I crossed that threshold of entrepreneur, I entered a hallway filled with dozens more questions. Here were possibilities of what I could do and could build that far exceeded my vision of what was possible just weeks before.

The whole experience was disorienting, and I knew that I needed counsel. Thankfully, I’ve got a coach.

Developing Some Vision for My Business: Process, Identity, Destination

After listening carefully to my concerns and the options before me, Rodger encouraged me to develop some vision. “Some vision is better than no vision,” was his wise counsel, and I’ve taken that to heart.

Working with my leadership coach Dave Ozios, I’ve begun developing some vision for my business, rather than worrying about developing a complete vision, which feels overwhelming and discourages my inner elephant.

Some vision allows me to stay flexible and emphasize process and identity goals, rather than getting hung up on less clear destination goals:

Process Goal
One process goal has been to more effectively time block my work projects, and to keep the promises I make to myself about when and for how long I’ll work on a particular task. I’ve begun using a process called Monday Hour One, and I’m finding that if I keep the promises I make to myself, enshrined as they are in my calendar, I not only accomplish more, but I can actively schedule fun, relaxation, and rest into my day.

Identity Goal
I didn’t used to be an athlete; I am an athlete. And while the slow and steady march into middle-age is upon me, an athlete maintains good mobility and strength through regular exercise. Rather than rely on my own motivation, I’ve taken advantage of online group classes and coaching through Valeo during the pandemic. This is all about shaping the path in order to make not exercising the less comfortable choice.

Destination Goal
The question of what I want to build remains. But as I’ve sat with the tension, I’ve discovered that questions of scale interest me less than questions of impact. That has allowed me to hold the possibilities loosely.

Through my work of developing some vision, I know why I’m in business: to help mission-driven entrepreneurs, organizations, and business leaders identify, delight, and grow their tribes. I do that through compelling storytelling.

The “what” of my business varies based on a particular client’s need, but as a nod toward a destination vision, I know that in the not-too-distant future, I’ll need to stop executing marketing strategies, and start teaching execution and process in order to add the most value for my clients.

To end, here’s Chip and Dan Heath from a chapter in their book, Switch, called Point to the Destination:

“What you don’t need to do is anticipate every turn in the road between today and the destination. It’s not that plotting the whole journey is undesirable; it’s that it’s impossible. To think that you can plot a turn-by-turn map to the end…is almost certainly hubris.

“When you’re at the beginning, don’t obsess about the middle because the middle is going to look different once you get there. Just look for a strong beginning and a strong ending and get moving.”

So here’s to developing some vision in this moment of cultural and economic uncertainty.

Let’s get moving.
Chris Marlink

Image by Maria Eklind. Used under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.