Vision Statement in Nigerian Female-owned Enterprises
The challenges faced by female entrepreneurship in many societies and the resulting gap in the performance of female-owned enterprises compared to that of their male counterparts has been a topic of interest. Studies have focused on perspectives such as cultural challenges, lack of support, skills, and personality to ascertain why female enterprises fail to grow compared to male-owned enterprises. This study highlights the role of the female entrepreneur’s vision and intention to grow her business. The article reviewed the meaning, benefits, and attributes of an effective vision. A pilot study was conducted through a quantitative descriptive method using a questionnaire to determine if female entrepreneurs in Nigeria had effective vision statements. Findings from this study showed that most female entrepreneurs had vision statements. However, a majority did not have their vision translated into realistic goals, and in many cases, the vision was not written and communicated to stakeholders. The study recommended further research to ascertain the impact of a vision statement on the performance of female enterprises. Finally, the paper highlighted the need to provide female entrepreneurs with training on the essence of an effective growth vision.
The impact of the challenges on the growth of women entrepreneurship in Nigeria has been researched by many scholars. These challenges include those unique to women, such as low capital and poor access to funds, inadequate training, lacking skills and technological inputs and social perceptions, stereotypes, family roles, and general challenges faced by all businesses (Aladejebi (2020). The factors surrounding female entrepreneurship play a role in their line of business.
Female enterprises in Nigeria are mainly informal, requiring low entry, low investment, low skills and are usually low productivity and service-oriented. These businesses include trading, retail, catering, tailoring, and micro-food processing (Aladejebi, 2020).
Scholars opined that many women venture into entrepreneurship to earn income to support their families or supplement the family income (Bullough et al., 2021). Some also saw entrepreneurship as a means of achieving personal goals and advancements denied due to discrimination in the workplace (Ojediran et al., 2020). Regardless of the reason behind entrepreneurship, profitability and growth are essential to sustainability in business.
Studies have compared male and female-owned businesses to conclude that women-owned enterprises are notably smaller (Shmailan, 2016), less successful, less open to risk and expansion than their male counterparts. Therefore, the failure of female-owned businesses to grow as expected and its resultant impact on achieving sustainable economic development through women entrepreneurship is why factors that affect the growth of women-owned enterprises are of interest.
Zampetakis et al. (2016) explained that growth intention by the owner is a predictor of actual business growth. Furthermore, they found that the goals of male entrepreneurs were economic while women focused on non-economic objectives such as balancing family roles and pleasing society, goals that negatively affect performance. Thus, the researchers concluded that business growth intention was influenced by gender.
This paper focuses on the entrepreneur’s business vision as a predictor of growth because having a practical vision facilitates growth strategies in an enterprise. The article explores the basics of a business vision, the nature of effective vision, and its benefit to female entrepreneurship. The paper will also conduct a pilot study to descriptively investigate the existence of an effective business vision in female enterprises. The study will answer the following questions will be answered;
- What makes a business vision effective?
- Do female enterprises in Nigeria have effective vision statements?
The entrepreneur, as the enterprise leader, has a role to play in the performance, growth, or failure of the enterprise. Thus value is attached to the entrepreneur's growth vision. Wadhwa and Parimoo (2016) described vision as the owner's future image of the enterprise, the future destination, and the justification for getting there. Vision sets the goals the business should work towards and facilitates decisions and strategic actions that ensure the achievement of the plans, thereby actualizing the vision.
According to Allyson (2019), a vision will be a mere statement if it is not practical. Allyson opined that a vision's effectiveness starts from communicating it to the stakeholders through a vision statement. Mahmood and Rehman (2015) listed the attributes of an effective vision as;
- Vision clarity and brevity
- Future orientation, desirability, and challenging
- Vision stability and abstractness
- Vision sharing
An entrepreneur's compelling vision should be communicated to shareholders through a statement. It describes a desirable future and challenges the stakeholders to work towards the actualization of the vision. An effective vision is stable and endures over time. It should be brief and have a clarity that facilitates the development of SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals that promote the vision.
Having a clearly defined growth vision from which SMART goals are created drives the development and growth of the business in various dimensions. A clear and effective vision paired with a mission statement provides the basis for the strategic management of an enterprise by facilitating the formulation of strategies for growth (Aidhaheri et al., 2020). In addition, a vision statement motivates employee performance and promotes efficient use of resources (Fontanella et al., 2017).
The role of entrepreneurial vision in the strategic management of an enterprise makes it a necessity in an unstable and challenging business environment. Female entrepreneurs faced with various challenges can leverage the strategic management process to set growth goals based on their vision, acquire and manage resources, including human capital, effectively to enhance the performance of their enterprises.
The study conducted investigates the existence of vision statements in female enterprises and their attributes to ensure effectiveness. The vision should facilitate smart goals, be communicated with shareholders, and be future-oriented.
The study utilized a quantitative descriptive methodology to study the existence of vision statements and their attributes. A questionnaire was distributed to female entrepreneurs who are members of a business association based in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, named the Sole sisters’ business club. Eighty-six questionnaires were distributed, sixty-three were returned, but fifty-five questionnaires were found valid. With responses ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree; the questionnaire was designed to ask the following questions below;
- I have a vision statement in my business.
- It is clear and easily broken down into realistic goals.
- It was written and shared with my stakeholders.
The questionnaires were sorted and responses grouped according to positive, negative, and neutral positions taken by the responses.
Statement 1: I have a vision statement in my business.
67% of the respondents agreed that they had vision statements for their businesses. However, 29% did not have any vision statement, while 4% were neutral.
Statement 2: It is clear and easily broken down to realistic goals.
31% of the respondents have translated their vision to realistic goals, 51% do not have goals created from a vision statement.18% gave a neutral response.
Statement 3: It was written and shared with my stakeholders.
Only 33% of the respondents have written and shared their vision with stakeholders, 60% do not have written and shared goals. 7% of the respondents gave a neutral response.
The results from the questionnaire showed that a reasonable number of the respondents (67%) agreed that they had a business vision. They had an image of where and how they would want their businesses to be in the future. A random interview of some of the respondents who made up the 29% who had no image of their future showed that some of them were women whose businesses supported the family. They contended with the status quo as it met their personal goal. This agreed with Zampetakis et al. (2016), who opined that growth perception in women entrepreneurship differed from that of their male counterparts.
The second question attempted to find out if the respondents have created realistic goals from their business vision. The results show that only 31% of the respondents had made goals from their business vision. This showed that not all the respondents who had goals were able to translate them into realistic goals. This finding may hint that creating goals from a business vision is not an ordinary skill. It is often challenging to create goals from a vague vision statement. The inability to make goals from a vision statement defeats the purpose of having a vision. The performance and growth of a business can only be affected by the vision statement if realistic goals are generated and pursued in line with the vision.
The last question investigated the communication of the vision statement to the stakeholders. The results show that 60% have not communicated their vision to stakeholders. Vision communication challenges the entrepreneur’s consistency, motivates the employees, and promotes customer confidence. Vision communication opens a channel for feedback which helps in monitoring and improving performance. When vision is not written and communicated, its stability is easily threatened, making it easy for the enterprise to lose its focus. A shared vision helps the sustainability of vision through challenges (Kantabura, 2019) which are common in female-owned enterprises
Enterprises are born out of the owner’s idea and vision for whatever intention. It also requires the entrepreneur’s growth vision to pursue the path of growth. Goals created based on the business vision become indicators to monitor the progress towards the desired future. A vision statement facilitates the creation of goals, motivates employee performance, promotes customer confidence, and efficient use of resources. Vision statements provide the foundation for the design of business-level strategies which ensure business performance and growth. The entrepreneur’s vision is a vital driver of the strategic management process in a business, irrespective of size. Entrepreneurship seeks growth through innovations, creativity, and expansion facilitated by a strategic management process. Therefore, the female entrepreneur must have a growth intention and vision from which business goals are designed.
This study reviewed the meaning of the business vision, its attributes, and its benefits to a business. In addition, this paper focused on the existence of vision statements in female-owned enterprises, if they were written and communicated and if goals were designed from these statements. The results showed that many female entrepreneurs have a clear vision of their enterprises’ future. However, the majority of the entrepreneurs do not have their visions translated into goals, and a majority do not also have a shared vision.
According to the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) (2019), women have 43.32% of the ownership structure of the 17 million micro-enterprises in Nigeria. Micro-enterprises have less than ten staff members and less than five million naira in capital, excluding land and building costs. Due to the micro size of most female-owned enterprises, the low staff strength, and business structure, it is common not to give attention to developing a practical vision. Female-owned enterprises started to support family income are more likely to get comfortable once their immediate needs are being met, hence the findings from this study. There is a need to ascertain through empirical research if the lack of a practical growth vision constitutes one of the factors why female-owned enterprises in Nigeria perform below expectation.
Findings from this study are significant to female entrepreneurs. It is also substantial to training institutions that can provide entrepreneurs training on developing an effective vision aligned with a strategic management process. This fact-finding study offers opportunities for further studies to researchers studying the Nigerian business environment. There is a need to explore topics such as the influence of a vision statement in the performance of Nigerian female entrepreneurship and why a majority of female entrepreneurs do not share their vision statements.
Author: Nkechi Doris Ike-Okereke
Aidhaheri, F., Ameen, A., Isaac, O. (2020) The influence of strategy formulation (vision, mission, and goals) on the organizational operations. Journal of Critical Reviews. Vol. 7(17), 1932-1941. http://www.jcreview.com/fulltext/197-1594228267.pdf?1596856769
Aladejebi, O. (2020) 21st century challenges confronting women entrepreneurs in Southwest Nigeria. Archieves of Business Research. Vol. 8(3), 261-280. DOI: 10.14738/abr.83.8018.
Allison, J. (2019) Mission statements and vision statements: Examining the relationship toward performance outcomes. Global Journal of Managment and Marketing.Vol. 3(1). https://www.igbr.org/wp-content/uploads/articles/GJMM_Vol_3_No_1_2019-pgs-1-21.pdf
Fontanella, A., Sukartini, Chandra, N. (2017) The effect of vision and mission statement on performance of accounting program of state polytechnics in Indonesia. International Journal of Innovation and Research in Educational Sciences. Vol.4(4), 476-482. https://www.ijires.org/administrator/components/com_jresearch/files/publications/IJIRES_1037_FINAL.pdf
Kantabura, S. (2019) Towards an organizational theory of sustainability vision. Sustainability. 12; 1125. ; doi:10.3390/su12031125
Mahmood, S., and Rehman, A., U.(2015) Impact of effective vision attributes on employee satisfaction. International Journal of Economics & Management Sciences. Vol. 5(2),315. doi:10.4172/2162- 6359.1000315
Ojediran, O., O., and Anderson, A. (2020) Women’s entrepreneurship in the global south: Empowering and emancipating? Administrative Sciences. 10 (87). https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci10040087
Shmailan AB (2016) Compare the characteristics of male and female entrepreneurs as explorative study. Journal of Entrepreneiurship and Organization Management.Vol 5(4). Doi: 10.4172/2169-026X.1000203
Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria and Bureau of National Statistics (2019) Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) national survey 2017 report . Retrieved on August 22,2020 from http://nigerianstat.gov.ng/download/976
Wadhwa, S., Parimoo, D. (2016) The impact of vision and mission on oranizational performance in Indian context. The International Journal Of Business & Management.Vol. 4(12), 165-170. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315803777_Impact_of_Vision_and_Mission_on_Organizational_Performance_in_Indian_Context
Zampetakis, L., A., Bakatsaki, M., Kafetsios, K., Moustakis, V., S. (2016) :Sex differences in entrepreneurs' business growth intentions: An identity approach. Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Vol. 5(29), pp. 1-20. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13731-016-0057-5