As startups scale, they can grow into something completely unexpected. When this happens, the company’s leadership and decision makers must ask themselves, “Does the strategy of my company today match the original vision and mission set in place when we first started out?”
Sometimes, this is simply a matter of going back to your roots.
For us at Typeform, we’ve always wanted to make traditional, static forms more interactive and conversational. Forms are what we do, and frustration with what was the norm is exactly why my co-founder and I set out to start the company in the first place.
The ultimate goal has always been to deliver on what our customers want and to ensure that we are providing the best version of our product. While we grew, we found we needed a more practical vision to guide the activities of the company.
So how do you know when it’s the right moment to reevaluate your company vision? I don’t think that there’s a correct order or process to know when or why to update your vision. Perhaps the “when” comes first and is driven by external forces affecting the entire market. Or it could be that the “why” comes first because you’ve noticed that your customers are engaging differently with your product than you might have anticipated. You might have even realized that your own employees are committed to building something bigger than you’d imagined in the start.
One thing is for sure: To be successful when updating a company vision, business leaders must be mindful of realigning the vision within the larger picture — why does my company matter and what problem are we solving?
We recently underwent this process at Typeform, and here’s what we’ve learned:
Garnering Feedback Is Important
Meeting with small groups is a great way to garner feedback from the company before the new vision is rolled out. It’s helpful to meet with groups of 2-5 people to present the proposal to the entire company group by group. In my experience, I like meeting closely with people since, at times, big presentations feel too grandiose for me. These small sessions are designed primarily to answer questions or doubts prior to the official presentation to the whole company. Of course, this isn’t always possible for larger companies but for us at Typeform (with just around 200 employees), it was definitely worth the effort — even though it was a lot of hours to dedicate.
Maintaining a Bi-Directional Conversation with Customers
As any business grows and scales, it becomes harder to maintain a close and direct relationship with customers — which is essential in developing a better customer experience and creating brand advocates. Having the right, appropriate, company vision should guide customer-centricity within a company and should ultimately impact the company’s direction and focus.
Simply asking customers for their opinions is one of the wisest things you can do to help your business grow and evolve in the right direction.
Consider Trends in the Market
When revamping a company’s vision, it is more critical than ever to keep an eye on trends gaining traction in the market and what competitors are doing. “Where are they innovating? Where is the market heading and why?”
When you innovate, others will follow. The best visions set a standard for the industry. When it comes to online forms, I believe that whichever company can take the most pain out of the process of filling out forms will win — because the reality is, people, don’t want our product as much as they want their problems solved.
Achieving Your Vision
It’s safe to say that almost every business has had to reevaluate their vision to pivot along with the changing needs of the market and customers at one time or another. As technology continues to advance at such a rapid pace, business leaders shouldn’t be afraid to reevaluate their vision.
Just as important is checking in at regular intervals to ensure the company is moving toward the vision. Talking about the company vision at all-hands meetings, and referring back to it regularly as you continue to update the roadmap is essential to maintaining the integrity of your business. We frequently ask ourselves if what we are doing (e.g. this project) is helping us move closer to achieving our vision. If it’s not, then maybe it’s not the right project for us.
Pivots are healthy and normal in the life of a growing company. Knowing when to adjust your product to fit the market is one thing. Knowing when to adjust your company vision is an entirely different but equally important decision.