Well, we know where we're goin'

But we don't know where we've been

And we know what we're knowin'

But we can't say what we've seen

And we're not little children

And we know what we want

And the future is certain

Give us time to work it out

Talking Heads

Welcome to Week 4—Visioning & Goal Setting. A business without a vision can feel like it's on a road to nowhere, putting out fires, reacting to the economy, and constantly engaging in what's urgent instead of what's important. This is the fourth week in the first section of the miniMBA: Discovery. If you are just joining us, you can catch up on those here


Now that we’ve defined our culturePurpose & Values—and clarified our role and approach to leadership, it’s time to articulate where we’re going and what we’re creating in the world. We want to step off of that road to nowhere and define the path forward. And that is the practice of Visioning. Author Werner Erhard said we can live our lives either acting out of circumstances OR OUT OF A VISION. I cannot think of a worse time to act out of circumstances. 

If our purpose tells us why we do what we do and our values tell us how we do what we do, our vision tells us what our company will become in the world. Visioning is a creative practice that addresses both the practical aspects—where are you located, how many team members do you have, how have your revenue streams evolved—and the existential aspects—what do you want your life to look like, how will you be spending your days, what will your legacy to look like, how will you, your employees, your customers feel when you have arrived in that moment—of growing a business

Your vision is a description of what your company will look like at some point in the future and a statement summarizing the impact that will be achieved. 

How far out you plan in the future depends on where you’re at in your business. It’s a great exercise to write a 10-year vision statement to inspire yourself, especially during this time of tremendous change. But you also need a shorter time frame to work with to build out the annual organizing objectives and goals. Most companies work with a 3-5 year vision that they can then map out the specific milestones they need to achieve to meet that vision. 

The acts of visioning and goal setting are truly the blending of masculine and feminine energies in business. Both carry equal importance, and one without the other falls flat. Visioning is an internal process, a time to go within and listen to your own inner knowing. Goal setting is action-oriented and the outward expression of what it is you are working to achieve. Our vision is our North Star. The destination keeps us focused, pulls us out of the day-to-day, and gives our accountabilities a bigger-picture context. If we have a team, we must have a clear vision so everyone understands what we’re working towards together. 

A vision is a motivator, a director, and an organizer for our company as a whole. Do you always feel like you’re putting out fires? Your vision probably isn’t clear. Do you find yourself changing your mind on a whim? Your vision probably isn’t clear. Do you burn out from the day-to-day grind? Your vision probably isn’t clear. Was your idea of what it meant to be an entrepreneur not aligning with your experience of it? Your vision probably isn’t clear.

Sometimes we worry that it’s impossible to predict the future or that our vision might change. And though those things are true, they should never stop engaging in the possibility process that vision allows. The future is always full of uncertainties, but the more specific we are about the outcomes we want to achieve, the more likely we are to make that happen. As Octavia Butler said, the very act of trying to look ahead and discern possibilities and offer warnings is an act of hope. 


“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin.” - Benjamin Elijah Mays 

Once we have our long-term vision, it’s time to break it down into tiny steps: our goals. We don’t just sit back, make a splendid vision board, and hope everything will happen! (But I do hope you make a vision board like Queen Oprah! Or that Mom from the Bling Ring Documentary lol.) It’s not about wishing, it’s about clarifying the actions we must prioritize through our goal-setting process. 

Goals are often misunderstood. We can set too many in too short of a timeframe. We aren’t specific enough about the actions and outcomes. And we don’t know how to align them with our vision. 

For every year of our vision, our business will have one organizing objective for that year. Our organizing objective gives us a focus for that year. Think of it as a mini-vision within your multi-year statement. After establishing our annual organizing objective, we can set our goals. 

When we start the goal-setting process, we want to first identify our revenue streams. Extra points if our goal setting aligns with our Income Chart of Accounts on our P&L. Each revenue stream has its own set of goals. 

So to recap, a vision is multi-year and encompasses the entire company; an organizing objective is one year and encompasses the entire company, and goals are anywhere from weeks to months and are specific to revenue streams. 

We want to ensure that all of our goals ladder up to our annual organizing objective and long-term vision. Goal setting isn’t about doing it all; it’s about being focused and prioritizing what’s important and being able to confidently say no to what isn't. Goals are building blocks, or as Bob Wiley says, baby steps.

All goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable (they stretch us but aren’t nonsensical), Relevant (to our vision), and Timed. Specificity is the key to clarifying what you and your team need to do to make the company vision a reality. And giving a timed deadline helps us stay accountable to progress. 

The types of goals we set include: 

Financial: We can easily get stuck at revenue goals, but financial goals also include pricing goals, cost savings goals, profit margin (both gross and net) goals, salary goals, benefits goals, and saving money to re-invest into the business. Financial goals are most successful when broken down into the smallest building blocks. Don't just tell us what your sales goals are for the year, but how much that is each day. 

Marketing & Sales: If you missed Beyond the Feed last week, you missed the opportunity to deep dive into marketing goals and learn just how expansive this category actually is. We've been trained to think that goals like followers or reach or ROAS are actually having an impact when really, each business is so nuanced that those might not even be relevant to ours. These goals can range from connecting to new customers or increasing our returning customers, to conversions, to increasing AOV, to lifetime value, and many more. If we don't understand the nuance of our vision and culture, we are likely aiming for marketing goals with little relevance to what we're trying to achieve. 

Operations & Personnel: These goals have everything to do with infrastructure. How we build our systems, tools, team, and culture. Most often, when students graduate from the Business Growth Program, their first priority is building the infrastructure before thinking about growth. We'll dig into this much deeper in the coming weeks when we get into the second section of the miniMBA. 

Production: How far out do you plan your production? One year? Three months? Our aim is a 3-year production plan with goals that range from research through launch through assessment. Three years might seem like a long time, and yes, you could change your mind, but without that roadmap, you're likely cutting corners, rushing phases of development, and not getting the most out of your launch. 

Once we set them, it’s important to map out the deadlines on the calendars and ask ourselves if the workload is actually attainable. Consistency in execution is more important than overwhelming ourselves.



  1. How do you define success? 
  2. Does your definition of success align with your company’s purpose? 
  3. How does your definition of success get expressed through your values?
  4. What does growth mean to you?
  5. What does business growth mean to you?
  6. What motivates you internally?  (Learning new skills, developing your character traits)
  7. What motivates you externally? (Press, Awards, etc.)
  8. What do you want your customers to remember about your business?
  9. In 2040 what will your legacy be?
    1. What if 2040 was tomorrow? What would you do differently? 
  10. Does the world need this? 
  11. Is the risk of your vision worth the reward?
  1. Can you see 1-5 years in the future? 
  2. Where are you located? 
  3. What are your revenue streams, and how have they evolved? 
  4. How have your products or services changed? What is your product roadmap? 
  5. How are you spending your day - what is your title on the organizational chart? How has your role evolved?
  1. What steps do you need to take to achieve the vision you are defining? 
  2. What categories do these goals fall into? 
  3. Are they SMART? 
  4. What are you prioritizing? 


Want to hear more? Listen to St. John Frizell speak about the power of visioning on the pod.


Check out the Small Giants Community and additional training

What Happens When An Economist Walks Into a Brothel

Johann Hari on Rich Roll (Podcast) [Focus/Media]

Sarah Lewis Dare to Lead (Podcast)

Center for Humane Tech // Science Fiction Shape Reality (Podcast)

Sky's The Limit

Good luck! We'll see you here next Wednesday for Week 5: Financial Planning. If you have a colleague who should join us, they can sign up here


This November, we'll read Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Marie Brown. This free event will be hosted on Tuesday, November 29th at 7PMEST via Zoom. Please email me to register. 

This email may contain affiliate links via such as our page. If you purchase through these, AHH may receive a small commission.


Did you check out our most recent episode of the pod?! Mike Duesenberg is a 2021 graduate of the Business Growth Program. Mike is the founder of Blank Studio in Chicago, IL (#wootwoot). Mike is our first solopreneur on the pod. We talk about everything from his family history with the Duesenberg Car, Indy Racing, Starter Jackets, his first record label in 2002, powerlifting, and our favorite Real Housewives, lol! He shares his wisdom about learning the difference between inspiration and discipline (so valuable), the difference between truth and trends in design, why he embraces tensions, why it's important to ride the wave of entrepreneurship and feel it all, and why knowing yourself deeply is important when developing the creativity for your brand. 

Happy Listening!


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