Long-term economic growth depends on the work of entrepreneurs, not government manipulation of the economy. That’s why we can hope those with the entrepreneurial spirit find some useful ideas in Rich Karlgaard‘s latest column for Forbes.

Business plans of the five-year type often have numbers pulled out of thin air. Mission statements are typically mushy, politically correct, cliché-ridden and forgettable. The plans are from Mars , the statements from Venus. Two phonies rarely make a good marriage.

A Canadian businessman living in Phoenix, Ariz., Cameron Herold, suggests a way of out of this trap. The idea occurred to him while he was watching an Olympic high-jump competition: “I saw how the best jumpers used visualization techniques. They’d stand on the runway and use their hands to block out the view of anything but the high jump bar and the landing pit. They’d look at the bar, visualize their run up, takeoff step and roll over the bar. They could see it all, as if a movie were playing in their head.”

Why shouldn’t entrepreneurs and executives do the same thing?, thought Herold. While chief operating officer at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, a trash-pickup franchise based in Vancouver, Herold used what he calls “vivid visions” to increase sales from $2 million to $125 million. Today Herold is a speaker and coaches CEOs.

“A vivid vision starts when an entrepreneur, founder or CEO plants one foot in the present and then leans out and places the other in the future, the ‘what could be.’ ” Herold specifically recommends a three-year framework, not a one-year or a five-year one.

How to start? “ Turn off your computer. Get out of your office. Go someplace remote, quiet, inspiring–a beach, a mountain. Take an unlined sketch pad and a pencil. Start writing what you see as the epitome of your success. Describe it in detail. It’s helpful to imagine that you’re filming every aspect of your business: your employees, customers, supplier relationships and so on. Play the film in your mind. What will the big picture and the details look like three years out?”

Hold no detail back, Herold says. “What are clients saying about you? What kind of comments are your employees making at the water cooler? How is the company running day to day?” Cover every area of your business: culture, staff, marketing, public relations, IT, operations, finance, engineering, production, customer service, etc.