Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Reminders From The Cow Herd: Why You Need To Lasso A Vision Statement

Courtesy of Faithwalk Photography
Do you have a vision for your cottage industry? Lately, our family has had a still continuing discussion about the future of our cow herd. Our family's style of discussion is as follows: broach the subject, state how the situation is and analyze our options until we get distracted by something else. A few days later bring up the subject again, re-discuss the options, bring in any other options we have thought of since last discussion until we get distracted once again. Repeat the cycle until we eventually reach a satisfactory answer. Probably not the most efficient way to reach a decision, but it works for us. :) 

Anyway, while listening to these family pow-wows on how to expand our cow herd, I've been reminded of the importance of a clear vision. If you want to have a successful cottage industry, you have to know where you are going and why. For me personally, I've found that a written vision is a must in my work.

Benefits of A Written Vision

For a long time, I operated my various cottage industries with a vague idea of where I wanted to go. I hobbled on this "do it on the fly" method for a time until my work became more time intensive. It wasn't until the Lord opened the door for me to write full-time that I finally sought Him for a vision and then wrote it down. Here are some of the benefits, I've experienced since penning down my vision statement.

1. Clarity of Focus

As you have likely experienced, there are scores of directions any of us could go with our cottage industry. Let's go back to our family cow enterprise. We have heritage breed cows that can be bred for either milk or meat purposes. This opens several directions we could pursue. Should we focus on expanding our milk customers or raise steers for meat? What about raising family milkers that we can sell to other homesteading families? Most of us are better off choosing a focus or two and mastering them well, rather than juggling several possibilities at once. Having a written vision keeps you focused on mastering a niche instead of drifting in masses.

2. Reveals The Best Use Of Resources

All of us only have so much money, time and energy to spend on our work. Once you know your vision, it clears the weeds between knowing good from best. Let's pretend our family decides our cattle's life purpose is to multiply their kind among other homesteading families. Temperament in parent stock now becomes top priority, along with a balance between meat and milk production. We also know we need to make the necessary changes to be able to accommodate several ornery...uh, I mean, adorable heifer cows running our pastures until they are broke to milk. The beauty of a written vision is that it shows us where our priorities need to be and how to wisely use our resources to that end.

3. Filters Your Opportunities By Keeping You On Course

A vision set in pen pulls you back when distractions tempt you. An example from the farm might look like this. You get a great deal on a show champion, pure-bred cow. By the time you finish handing over the cash, the seller has dazzled you with the glory of the show ring making you believe you are driving away with a four-legged ticket to a hill of blue ribbons. You start doing your research on show life and find out they are held every weekend and you need to attend at least 95% of them to make it worthwhile (disclaimer: I've never shown anything other than my ignorance, so please understand I'm throwing out fake numbers here :)). Now you have a decision to make: will the show ring make your cattle more useful to homesteading families? Actually, whether this is a distraction or blessing will depend on the individual situation, but you can only know that based on your vision. Taking the time to pray and write out your vision is vital for discerning if an opportunity is a providential short cut or a distracting detour.

If you've never put to paper what the vision is for your cottage industry, I'd highly encourage you to do so. Think about it. Pray about it. And watch for a near future post when we get into the how-to of writing a vision statement.

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