So you’ve got your business plan. You’ve got your marketing plan. Heck, you’ve even got a blogging plan. But, what your business needs first, before all of these, is a life plan. No, you won’t see “life plan” on most small business sites, because it’s of my own invention. What I mean when I say you need a life plan is that you need a blueprint for the big picture of your life, and your business should align with it. How much money do you need to make to be happy? How long will you be in business? Will you sell it or just close up shop when you’re ready to retire? Knowing the answers to questions like these can help shape the strategy for what you’re doing in your business and how you secure your funding.
Looking at Longevity
Most business owners don’t have the end in mind when starting a business. They simply want to launch a business around an idea or a passion. They hope it’ll succeed, but it seems presumptuous at that point to be thinking about how that business will look in 20 or 30 years.
And yet, knowing what your business might look like can help you make decisions today. Here are two examples:
- Business A hopes to be wildly successful in the next 5 years and then sell to a larger company
- Business B wants to be around for future generations to run
These two examples would need very different business strategies right now to achieve their goals. Business A, for example, should start looking for investors to help with that skyrocketing growth it wants in the near future so it’ll be appealing to potential buyers in five years. Business B needs a longer, slower path to success, not a cash infusion and a Board of Directors.
What do you envision for your business? Do you want it to provide income for the rest of your life while you work, or do you want to slave away for a few months or years to get a big payout and then go sip umbrella-clad drinks on a beach?
Once you know the broad brush strokes of where you’d like to take your business, establish goals to get there. If you want your kids to take over your business in 10 or 20 years, you should set a goal of hiring them in positions they’d be good at now so you can eventually train them for more responsibility. If you want a buyout, then you should grab a copy of the book Built To Sell by John Warrillow; you need to set goals for making a business that can run without you.
Creating a Contingency Plan
What happens if you get ill for several months? Does your business fall apart? What if you want to take an extended vacation? You need a contingency plan that will outline what to do if you’re not around. You also need to make sure you are properly insured to cover yourself financially should you become severely ill. Who’s in charge in your absence? What decisions are they authorized to make if you’re unavailable?
When creating this component of your life plan, discuss it with that person who you trust to run your business in your absence so they are aware of your wishes. Don’t forget to keep your life plan handy so you can tweak it as needed and ensure that you’re on track to achieving those big-picture goals.
If you need to blueprint to create your life plan, I’ve developed a life planning journal that will walk you through the process building the life and business of your dreams.
“Working With Tablet” courtesy of patrisyu / www.freedigitalphotos.net