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How to Build a Compelling Vision for Your Business

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We ran a survey with our team at Canva about team culture. It’s something I’ve been thinking about as we grow. How do we maintain the stuff we all love about work as our company grows?

We’ve gone from a team of 10 to a team of 40 in less than a year, and continue to grow.

With growth comes the challenge of maintaining the best parts of being a small company, the kind of place where you leave at the end of each day feeling happier, healthier and more fulfilled then when they started.

I started my previous company from my mum’s living room. Our fledgling team would gather around the lunch table every day. It’s a tradition we’ve continued now at Canva. There are a few things which need to happen for an effective vision to be shared.

1. Solve a real problem

Culture is many things. It is the way you approach work. It is the way people interact with one another. In our recent survey we asked team members why they joined Canva. There were some great ideas and responses. Interestingly, it was the vision to solve a big problem that seemed to be the strongest motivator.

“When I first heard about Canva it was exciting to think of creating a tool that would enable millions, perhaps billions, to more easily realise their ideas,” said one team member.

Canva makes graphic design simple for everyone. Good graphics are essential for marketers, bloggers and small business owners who need to create visual content daily. That’s a pretty big problem for lots of people.

As a startup founder you are the custodian of your company’s vision. Through every phase of your company — starting out, raising funding, hiring a team, selling to customers, marketing — you must continuously advocate, inspire, and motivate.

2. Tell your story

Your vision carries you through everything you do. An investor recently said to me, the only thing you ever sell as a founder is your vision. It’s true. Whether you’re raising funding, recruiting team members, working on partnerships or selling your company, you’re constantly selling the vision.

Numbers, statistics and hard facts don’t inspire people. However, if you can incorporate them into a story, people will see the world through your eyes. With Canva, understanding the problem and struggles of the professional design process that marketers, small businesses and even professional designers face is critical to understanding the value that Canva brings.

Design tools have traditionally been expensive and hard to use. But now, with new technology like HTML5, the Internet and tablets, a new era is beginning.

3. Work with A+ players

Founders 4 (1)

When I first sat down with one of our earliest investors, Facebook Director of Engineering Lars Rasmussen, I showed him this hilarious pitch deck and explained the concept for Canva. He understood the vision before many others.

In fact, Lars introduced us to many of our other investors. He also introduced us to our co-founder Cameron Adams and development lead, David Hearnden.

I’ve come to think of the Canva vision as being a ladder. You’re constantly working towards that big vision, which is months, even years away. So it’s important to break it down, and take it one step at a time.

The more people that believe in your vision, the easier the journey becomes. Over the past few years, we’ve had team members, investors and users join us who understand our vision. In fact, we now have 700,000 users who love Canva and use it as part of their day.

They share our vision. Our entire team is passionate enough to come into work every day to build Canva. They could work anywhere, yet they choose to be at Canva.

Now, as we continue to grow, we’re needing to adapt the way we do things to maintain the environment we envisaged for Canva. It’s been a big adventure already, but we’re really only just getting started.

Do you have a question about building a compelling vision for your business? Ask us in the comments!

About Melanie Perkins


Melanie Perkins is CEO of Canva, which makes graphic design amazingly simple for everyone. Since launching a year ago, the company has grown to 850,000 users who’ve now created more than 4.6 million designs. In addition to being a passionate entrepreneur, Melanie is an avid traveler and has backpacked around the world.

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