As an entrepreneur you have committed hours to the prospect of why you devote all the time, energy and focus to growing your business. It's not easy to channel that same level of intensity to the deeper questions that go to the core of your life, outside of your business. But there will come a day, like a harvest, when you reap the product of your work.
You are left with your life, outside of business and the purpose for all your efforts.
As you consider these meaningful aspects of your life and money, you want to explore the following questions; just as you would if you were opening a new business. You want to think through each aspect that might impact your success.
What do I really want in my life?
Reflect on your values and need for security. What will allow you to put your head on the pillow at night? Some examples: putting children through college, paying off loans or debt, or having the ability to care for your aging parents.
Apply the same question to your business. Are you looking to build and sell, create a legacy for the future, or something else? Whatever your answer, the essence is the same: what do you really want from the creation, care, and development of your business? This is truly the place to start.
Am I moving in the right direction?
Assessment is something that is a part of being in business; trends, profits, challenges, etc. But it is rarely considered in terms of personal life goals. It is crucial to understand where you are and appreciate the progress you've made, and to make course corrections where you're not experiencing the desired results. Evaluate your direction on a regular basis.
Your CPA might hand you a quarterly financial statement, but are you really looking, evaluating, and maintaining a focused effort to ensure your business is moving in the right direction? As the foremost expert on your business, it is vital to ask for objective help and guidance. It is more effective to track your results monthly, quarterly, or another time period that would be meaningful in assessing progress. Without taking the time to lift your vision above the day-to-day, you could miss something important.
What could impact my ability to live the life I want?
This question is geared towards thinking about the future and planning for unexpected occurrences. You might think of it as a "threat assessment", which is another common business planning practice, but somehow is ignored in our personal lives. Some examples of unexpected occurrences that could arise are a decline in health, a catastrophe with your home, or a death in the family. This is where your resilience kicks in, which is your muscle that helps you bounce back.
As business owners, we know that not everything works out as expected; whether it's a weather event, labor issues, political unrest, or other factors that impact outcomes. Your ability to adapt to these situations is the difference between a business poised for success and one that is headed for disaster. Business and personal resilience is key to success.
Who are the important people in my life and are we in agreement in how we are moving forward financially?
Our lives are busy. While we might intend to have meaningful and important conversations, we don't always follow through. You must make sure you're on the same page with the important people in regards to your financial goals and the appropriate means of achieving your dreams.
It's also important to have your experts work with you to see the big picture, to identify trends, changes in tax laws, interest rates or other finance-related matters. Make sure your team of experts collaborate and personal egos are left at the door. Be sure to let each member know what you expect in clear and simple language.
What must happen in order for me/us to feel like we are moving in the right direction?
The must question is a big one. It cuts right to the chase by avoiding all the 'wants' and 'things' that go along with life. Establish a baseline that coincides with your values. For example, "we must accumulate enough resources to ensure we do not outlive our money." Then figure out what that means and develop action steps to get there; but it has to begin with that baseline.
A wise business coach once told me that being an entrepreneur means living on a slippery slope and if you begin to feel stability under your feet, you're probably doing something wrong.
The lack of stability makes navigating decisions and opportunities a challenge in an ever-changing landscape. But your mission is to know where you want to go and why you must get there. Some things will go right and others not, but the mission remains: Know what moving forward means down to the specifics.