What does it take to build a great company? I was reading Michael Gerber’s book, Awakening the Entrepreneur Within and was struck by his discussion on the personal and impersonal vision. This discussion is relevant to this whole concept of the entrepreneur as a servant. Basically the personal vision he is talking about is your vision for your life. The kind of person you want to become. The things you want to have a do this is your personal vision. The second kind is the impersonal and that is one that effects you and the world out side of you. this is your vision to provide value to the marketplace and more importantly a business that can excel at it.
First the personal vision is the one you have for yourself and your own wants needs and desires. There is nothing wrong with having a personal vision, but the question still remains, is that vision big enough to build a great company. In our culture if we are not careful we can think the most important thing is profit and what we personally take away. This is what we are seeing with many of the executives that are running business into the ground and at the same time they are getting rich. Their vision is only personal.
To produce a great company that serves life and serves people it takes what Micheal is calling the impersonal vision. This vision births a sense of purpose and passion that has the ability to unify a group to produce great results. What happens to the company when you reach or surpass your personal goals. This kind of vision is just to small for the challenges that the journey to building a great company will face. Paul Polak who wrote the book, Out of Poverty, has been speaking at the top design schools in the country and has seen an amazing amount of interest in his movement to recruit the top designers to work on product designs for those who live on less then two dollars a day. Why would they be so excited about that? Because their products would have a tremendous potential to raise millions out of poverty by empowering them to earn more. We all want that important maybe even impossible enterprise that calls for something great in us to be revealed. Think about Kennedy’s vision to send a man to the moon.
So does profit matter? Should you have personal goals and vision? Of course without profit you are not building a great sustainable company. What I am trying to say here is that it takes a big bold clear vision that benefits real people, communities and the marketplace to truly become great. I have personal experience with this. When I have a vision for more then myself I am motivated. At times I have lost passion and in hind sight I can see it was because I had reached some of my personal goals through my business and lost my way until I remembered what I was here for. It’s really the journey that is exciting. It’s the journey that we believe in deep down in our gut that we will fight for. It’s this journey to a vision greater then ourselves that convinces others to join, and not just join but to do so passionately.
The following is a video of Micheal Gerber talking about vision and the process an entrepreneur takes