You Don't Need a Grand Vision
You already have what it takes to build a successful business
When Semaphore hit the seven-figure mark as a bootstrapped business, my cofounder and I sat down to rethink our strategy. Spread out in front of us was a business framework canvas, with 'Big Hairy Audacious Goal'1 right in the middle. Our gut reaction? "Bro, we just want more folks using and benefiting from our product!"
The guiding principle of ours—making it possible for all developers to test & deliver cool products quickly—didn’t seem grand or hairy enough. It felt like we were missing some secret ingredient that successful leaders supposedly have to spell out their success.
But as time went by, Semaphore just kept growing. What drove this growth? It was a mix of steady, continuous learning and iterative improvements, peppered with a few bold moves. Like when we decided to overhaul the product for a new era of container-based cloud computing workflows. Or launching an enterprise offering.
You hear all the time that you need some grand, sweeping vision to make it in business. Here's the thing: you don't. If your product solves a real problem that people are willing to pay for, just keep at it:
Stick to the core reason why you started in the first place.
Maintain close contact with your customers.
Pay attention to how customers get creative with your product or where they hit walls. Let these insights guide your product's evolution.
Know when it's time to step up from iteration to a bold leap. Pursuing a high risk/reward opportunity falls squarely on the shoulders of a founder.
Along the way, your experience might just lead you to grander, wider-reaching ideas. You'll figure out what resonates with your team and you. Maybe one day you'll pen down that big, bold vision statement that feels just right.
For now, there's plenty to tackle with what's in front of you. Let your vision grow and change with your business – that's how it should be.
The concept of "Big Hairy Audacious Goals" (BHAGs) was first introduced by Jim Collins in his 1994 book Built to Last.