Painting Your Big Picture: What Does Your Future Look Like?
I thought it was time to write about a topic close to my heart — the painted picture.
This simple strategy has helped me keep aligned with my vision over many years, many businesses and many investments.
Back in the day, my business’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) was for 10% of the Australian population (2.1 out of 21 million) to have purchased an experience with RedBalloon by 2015.
Now we’re in 2017 and have provided 3.8 million experiences so far, so I think we did pretty well!
Our purpose at RedBalloon was to change gift giving in Australia forever, so people could reduce the clutter in their lives and LIVE more.
When I took the leap of faith and started RedBalloon, my job was survival.
I had no customers for 2 months and 4 days.
It seemed like an eternity. The longest 64 days of my life.
When we did make our first sale (order number 14 — I had done 13 myself before this to keep checking that the website actually worked), I called our first customer, Damian Chown, to ask how his experience was with our website.
The news was not good. He gave me some very frank feedback on how horrendous the website was to use.
Over a decade later, RedBalloon’s website is, in my eyes, a piece of art.
Each enhancement is carefully architected by the team based on what we learn from our customers. Not all developments have been a hit, but it is a process of evolution.
Now, we’ve formed The Big Red Group, which RedBalloon sits under, and we given ourselves a pretty big BHAG — to help 10 million businesses be commercially successful by 2022!
The Stages of a Business
Businesses go through different phases.
Each phase has a distinct set of characteristics. Each cycle brings its own set of challenges about leadership style, cash flow, marketing activities, customer base, processes, systems etc.
Over time, the focus and importance you place on any given activity needs to change as the business matures.
Fifty per cent of my time as CEO (chief experience officer) at RedBalloon was spent with customers, listening, learning and responding.
The other part of the role was all about staying focused on the vision, delivering on our values and of course keeping everyone in the team and our supply community aligned with our plan.
It reminds me of when travelling with my children, they regularly ask, ‘Are we there yet Mum?’ — it’s a standard family joke.
I still respond:
It’s all about the journey — we might never get there.
RedBalloon has come a long way from its very humble beginnings in the front room of my home, with me literally doing everything (except cutting code).
Now we have systems, processes and structures to support growth and fabulous people who are specialists in their field and committed to what we are up to, not to mention a customer base that gives us bucket loads of ideas.
My role now is about setting the vision and providing a guiding hand.
I surround myself with highly skilled individuals who are accountable for delivering on the plans because, as they say;
‘A founder needs to know when to get out of the way.’
Painting Your Picture — What does your destination look like?
Painting the picture of your life, your business, can really be a lot of fun.
Paint your picture, your future, with words.
Let your imagination run wild.
Not limiting yourself to the ‘how’ will get us there.
So how do you paint your picture?
Simply think about and imagine what the world will be like when you achieve your ultimate BHAG.
Finishing off the following question makes all the difference:
“What will our world will be like when… ?”
Make it vivid. Make it a story. Inject your brand into it and make it as grand as you’d like.
It’s simple, but for my whole entrepreneurial career, this has been one of my secret weapons.
I now embark on this next chapter in my own businesses within The Big Red Group.
I have come to realise that it is all about enjoying the journey. Every single moment of it.
But it’s also about having a clear understanding of what the destination could be like, if we create it.
As Alan Kay said ‘the best way to predict the future is to invent it’ and we want to create our own destiny.
It is so valuable to create a picture and allow all those in our organisation to share the journey equally.