When you are starting your own business, one of the first pieces of advice you will hear is that you need to develop a business plan. A solid business plan is important because it keeps you on track toward your business goals as you make day-to-day decisions about the operation of your business. You probably already have a business plan in place, or you are in the process of writing your business plan. But, what about your life plan?
For the small business owner, a life plan is as important as a business plan. As you know, starting your own business is a tremendous investment of your resources. Money and time are precious, nonrenewable resources that must be used wisely if you are to remain in business and be successful. It takes one to three years for the average person to get a business off the ground. During those first few years, your business can take over your life. New business owners are prone to putting family, friends, recreation, leisure, and health on the backburner as all their resources go into developing their business. There is a huge cost in doing so, both to yourself and to your business. This is a set-up for depression, chronic and acute medical problems, marital conflict, distant relationships with children, loss of friends, etc. Furthermore, your business suffers because problems from your personal life creep into your day-to-day decision-making, leading to poor business choices, distraction, and a general malaise that interferes with your productivity. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. Make the development of your life plan as important as your business plan–because it is!
So, what is a life plan? Just like your business plan, a life plan includes your vision for your life, your life purpose, your values, and your goals–both for your personal life and your career. Your life plan actually encompasses your business plan. Your business should be a part of your life plan, and it should stem directly from your vision, life purpose, values, and personal goals. There was a compelling reason for you to start your own business. And, there also was a compelling reason for the type of business you have chosen for yourself.
You likely chose your business based on a desire for a particular lifestyle. What was your vision for your lifestyle when you decided to start your own business? Is your business supporting this lifestyle, or is it taking you further and further away from the lifestyle you desire. As a new business owner, your experience to this point likely has been that your business is the focus of your life, and other areas of your life are on the backburner for now. You may be telling yourself, “Once my business is more successful, I’ll have more time for the other areas of my life that are important to me.” And, you might. But, if you don’t start attending to the balance in your life now, it will be harder and harder to do so down the road. A life plan will guide you in making important day-to-day decisions about how to allocate your time and money–in all facets of your life, including your business.
Having a life plan is just as important to the success of your business as your business plan is. Don’t put this task off any longer.
By Michael Williams