An entrepreneur or company’s chief executive officer may be able to picture their direction for success clearly. However, it is often the case that initiatives aimed at improving a business’s performance aren’t begun with the right insight in order to achieve the stated objectives. Problems related to customer management, responsible growth within the company, or figuring out just how one’s new suite of products or services are going to perform on the market might prove difficult for a company to tackle.
Luckily, the recipes for solving such issues don’t have to be made from scratch. They do, however, require insights about the business in question and a familiarity with how other businesses corrected similar problems. This is the work that Vision Strategy Management does. A business consultancy firm based in Franklin, TN, Vision Strategy Management is the product of a proprietary series of business strategies created by author, professional speaker, engineer, podcaster, and CEO of Vision Strategy Management Charelle Lans. Vision Strategy Management’s list of former clients for training and development services include major business names like CVS, Southwire, and Jack and Jill of America, Inc. just to name a few.
A former industrial engineer, Charelle spent 13 years in the field, working with major Fortune 500 companies like Johnson & Johnson and Mars, Inc. on their supply chain management or helping them to scale subsidiary organizations within the company’s framework. It was during her work as an industrial engineer that she developed her business strategy attack plan, described in her book, “The Roadmap to Success: Moving from the 95 Who Fail to the 5 Who Succeed.”
She says, “When I graduated college, I was selected to participate in an elite global program called the ‘GOLD Program.’ It’s basically a Johnson & Johnson’s operations leadership program. They rigorously interview and select approximately 25 or so individuals around the world, and they cultivate their experience over the course of two years.” Charelle explains that the name “GOLD” is an acronym for “Global Operations Leadership Development.”
Charelle says that this program started with 900 candidates. In her instance, it was whittled down to 23 people who received leadership development training as it related both to social skills and technical skills. She learned every facet of the supply side of business.
“As a part of that [program], I found my niche specifically in the space of strategy,” she recalls. Charelle was given control over a $100M brand from a supply planning perspective. Later, she oversaw the largest cat care and treats business in the world vaulted at over $5B during her time working for Mars as a segment industrial engineering manager and supply lead.
“Along my journey, I experienced individuals who challenged whether I deserved to have the experiences that I encountered, one of them being a direct manager…” she says. “He made the role extremely difficult for me.”
This particular manager didn’t like Charelle. He told her on the first day he worked with her that she didn’t deserve to be where she was, and that his goal was “to walk her out of the organization.”
This was a new and stunning development for Charelle. Before this, she had been blessed to encounter different mentors and managers who’d all taken a liking to her. This manager, however, seemed to have it in for Charelle.
Charelle explains, “Anything I did was always wrong. I went from being ‘the best’ if you will to [him] submitting me as ‘below expectations.’”
Fortunately, Charelle was saved by a mentor within another part of the company. A higher-up within the organization’s ranks, he felt that Charelle was not offered a fair shake at her job. It was his influence that launched an investigation into Charelle’s manager. The investigation concluded that Charelle was not being treated fairly. It was this individual—and not Charelle—who would wind up losing their job.
Charelle appreciated the efforts that others had made on her behalf to make certain that she could work in an environment where she was treated with respect. Even so, the experience was an eye-opener. Charelle realized that she didn’t like the prospect of forces beyond her control affecting her livelihood. She saw very clearly what power a bad boss or a good mentor could wield. As a result, Charelle was inspired to apply the knowledge of her leadership and industrial engineer training—the latter being more focused on the “why” of a product’s design instead of the “what”—and work as a business consultant. She spent the next five years reviewing business case studies and honing her craft.
“It birthed the vision of entrepreneurship, and wanting to do something that created value for other people,” she says.
Based on the studies of how other businesses succeeded or failed, Charelle created a five-prong model to help other businesses strategize to achieve success. In 2018, she left the corporate world to create Vision Strategy Management. She wanted her company to be a voice of encouragement for other businesses, because she believes that the majority of limitations perceived by entrepreneurs are mental barriers disguised as physical obstacles.
“Wherever there are barriers, there are also opportunities. You just have to be willing enough to see them, and be willing enough to push through in spite of the circumstances that occur,” she states.
Vision Strategy Management makes the execution of a business plan or a plan for a particular aspect of a business’s operations easier for its clients to handle. Vision Strategy Management has two sides, one dealing with people and the other that addresses the product or service’s performance.
“The people side is leadership development. It’s speaking. It’s coaching. It’s developing people… internally,” Charelle says. The performance side is all about how her five-prong approach affects a client’s metrics both for individual parts of the business, like sales campaigns during a particular quarter, and the overall performance of a business.
Many of Vision Strategy Management’s clients are confidential, but Charelle says that two recognizable entities would be the Pathway Women’s Business Center and the Nashville Business Incubation Center (NBIC), both organizations catering to business development. Vision Strategy Management is an in-house resident strategist for the NBIC’s operations as a whole. She explains that in 2020, Vision Strategy Management exceeded its normal business by 88 percent despite COVID-19, as newer clientele needed help pivoting through the pandemic. This rapid expansion has led to Charelle adding additional team members. She is also in the process of opening a second physical location.
The kinds of problems the Vision Strategy Management team addresses can vary. Inquiries about positioning, becoming cost-effective, and general plans for growth do get frequently fielded by the company’s team of four. Charelle wants to continue the company’s expansion, and has the goal of empowering 100,000 individuals of client organizations. Moved by what others lost during COVID-19, she wants to help them make up for the missed chances to improve how they work.
“The way that we quantify that is by them driving activation, whether it be through our trainings, [or other] development opportunities that we have,” she clarifies, explaining that the 100,000 empowered individuals to which she referred will be inspired to do better through a mix of Vision Strategy Management services. From a company’s janitor to the organization’s CEO, Charelle wants to help businesses by helping their employees at every level of the business.
The success of the individual and the success of the business are inseparable for Charelle. Outside of her consultancy, Charelle co-hosts the podcast “Women with Grit.” This show profiles women of interest and unpacks how they’ve overcome challenges in their professional and personal lives. In her perspective, what happens in the person’s life is directly related to what happens in the office.
Charelle says, “A lot of the times, my conversations will start off professional and then somehow… it becomes personal. And for small business owners and entrepreneurs, the success or failure of that [business] is like their baby [failing], and they take it very personally. What starts off as what would be a business idea or a business venture, somehow families get impacted or involved. My goal is to help them grow, so that they don’t fall into a space where their businesses bleed, or their businesses are not able to succeed.”
Charelle currently has three books published, and at the time of writing was working on the fourth one to be released in June 2021.