Any act of creation, whether it is a piece of art or a new business, starts off as a vision.
Think about it: everything manmade that we can see around us began in someone's imagination.
If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, your ability to get other people (clients, customers, investors) to buy into your vision is paramount. The more clearly you can imagine and communicate that vision, the more likely it is to become a reality.
The opposite is also true: if you can't imagine it, it's not real. The moment you stop seeing or believing in the thing you want to create, all of it vanishes.
How to Create a Compelling Vision
Here's how to convince other people (and yourself) of something that doesn't exist yet:
Be transparent. You don't need to have everything figured out, or pretend you are further along than you actually are. Trust, at a deep emotional level, is the key to influence. And transparency engenders trust.
Tell stories. There's a reason why stories have been around since the dawn of time, why the Bible contains so many parables, and why most good speeches start with one. Stories help us relate more closely to you and your ideas. They humanize you and make your big vision into something smaller and more tangible.
Get specific. The best way to sell something that doesn't exist is to make it as real as possible. That means incorporating video, diagrams, and specific plans about what you are creating. It means thinking through the hard questions before you get put on the spot.
Give away value. This one mostly happens over time. When you cultivate relationships and help other people make their vision a reality, they will be more likely to return the favor and believe in you. When the time comes that you need help, be ready to answer the question "What's in it for me?".
Keep the faith. Perception is key when it comes to vision. And your perception influences other people's perception. The first sale is yourself, because family, friends, and potential investors will only believe in your vision if you do.
Do it again. The more often you can practice bringing something from your imagination into the world, the better you'll get at it. This is why I've started creating new projects, as opposed to new businesses; they allow me to test ideas quickly without feeling like I have to live or die by them.
It's Your Turn
If you implement the advice above, you will get more people on board with your ideas, raise more money, and attract business partners and relationships more quickly. You'll also feel better. Because when you are able to paint a clearer picture of your vision for others, you're better equipped to deal with your own self-doubt.
This isn't a one-time process. You must constantly sharpen and re-communicate your vision, as it's always evolving.
In those moments when your imagination falters, it can be helpful to get around and support people who are making their own visions a reality. If there is one key to success, it is surrounding yourself with people who have already done what you want to do.