When setting out on their solo journey, some people undertake strategic business planning, while others set off blindly, with no clear direction. Many soloists take the more haphazard approach, and this results in what I call business misery.
Business misery is where your work takes over your life; where the returns from your business – the success, the money, the fulfilment – are minimal compared with what you are putting into it; where it negatively affects your health and your relationships, and where your life becomes totally out of balance.
So how do we undertake strategic business planning for our business? The answer is simple. All it requires is that we create for ourselves a clear Vision, Mission and set of Values.
This is the fun part! It’s where you ask yourself: Where am I going? What am I going to do there? See yourself in five years – how does your business and your life look?
Allow yourself to dream, don’t censor it and don’t be embarrassed. And as you allow yourself to form a vision of your future you should feel a tangible surge of energy and excitement as you start to get the clarity you desire about your direction. It’s the same thrill you would have felt as a child before a fun day out, a trip to the beach or an exciting holiday.
This is the why to our business. It gives us the answer we need to keep us going when things are tough, or when we can’t remember ‘’Why am I doing this?”
The answer, interestingly, has nothing to do with us and what we want for ourselves. It has to do with a sense of purpose – our personal mission – to be of service to others, of giving, or of making other people’s lives better, easier and more enjoyable. You may be here to inspire or guide others, or help them be their best.
Whatever your life purpose is, when you find it you will know it, unmistakably, by how you feel inside. You may even be moved to tears – tears of joy, or tears of sadness for the years passed without knowing your mission.
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This is the GPS navigation system for our journey! Our values are what guide us every day in our business decisions. Whether that is our willingness to listen to our clients, our integrity or sense of fun, values are what are most important to us and what ultimately distinguish our business from the one down the road.
A big clue in identifying our values is to look at what we find most annoying when they are lacking in what we receive from others.
For example, poor customer service and lack of communication are what irritate me most. As a result, excellent customer service and clear communication are the most important values in my work.
Remembering that enables me to clearly define the actions I need to take to stay on track, which may be as simple as a quick phone call to a client to check they are happy with the way the work is progressing. This is ultimately where we find our fulfilment – giving of ourselves in a way that we truly value.
So, take a bit of time out for strategic business planning – it’s never too late to start, and easy enough to get back on track. Then at least you’ll know where you’re going, why you are going there and how to get there – and you’ll have a lot more fun along the way!