There are many things to deal with when starting and running a small business. While it’s certainly important to keep our attention on the daily processes involved in running our business, it’s also vitally important that we spend some time and energy planning for the future. And while planning ahead is key in running a successful company, it’s also crucial that we realize that the things we do in our daily business interactions are also likely to have an effect on the future of our business.
One of the main reasons that we started a small business was to provide for our family, so we obviously need to do everything in our power to turn our business into a profitable venture as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, in our rush to start making money we’re often blind to the fact that our current actions can have implications on our future success.
All too often we’re focused solely on the money that’s currently within our grasp. We concentrate exclusively on the ‘now money,’ often to the detriment of our ‘future money.’ Obviously, we’ve got to focus some level of our attention on our now money. Without any money coming into our small business today, we might not be around long enough to have to worry about future money.
But that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the effect that our current actions can have on our future earnings.
It’s important to occasionally take a step back from our daily routine to check our bearings. We should regularly pause the daily grind for a bit of self-assessment, stopping to evaluate where we are in our business and whether or not we’re moving in the right direction.
Self-assessment can present a big problem for small business owners, especially sole proprietors. Since we’re often the only ones working on our business, it can seem like there’s always more work to do than there are hours in the day to get it done. We can become so consumed with doing the work and earning a living that we fail to look at the big picture, neglecting any opportunities that we may have to plan for the future.
Where do we see our business next year?
In five years?
What are our long-term goals?
Do we have an exit plan, or will we simply work until we fade away?
For most of us, being a home inspector is likely to be our final career choice. We’re planning on running our business for the foreseeable future. So, barring an unexpected lottery ticket windfall, we’re in it for the long-haul. It only makes sense that we’d spend at least a little time planning for what we’d like to achieve over our extended career.
While it doesn’t result in any of that all-important ‘now money’, it’s important that we carve out some time from our overloaded schedule to do some career planning.
We need to stop doing inspections for just a little while, find ourselves a quiet place to work, grab a cup of coffee (or something a bit stronger), a pen and paper and start writing down some ideas on where it is we’d like to go.
Take a break from the day to day and take a look at our future.
While plans are never set in stone, and can be changed whenever the situation dictates, having something written down that we can refer to can help keep us one track in our career. We should ask ourselves what it is we’re trying to accomplish and write down our answers so that we’ve got some concrete goals that we can focus on whenever we get caught up in difficult times.
How much are we willing to work?
How far are we willing to drive?
How much are we going to charge and how often are we going to increase our prices?
How much money are we hoping to get from our business?
Are we planning on remaining a one-person company, or would we like to eventually have some inspectors working for us?
Will we remain focused on home inspections, or do we have plans to branch out, offering additional services to our clients?
How big of an area do we plan or serving? Will we try to grow our reach? Will we retract our territory (to lessen our travel time) once we gain some traction in our immediate area?
Do we want to try to market to everyone, or should we decide to narrow our focus to a certain type of clientele?
Do we have any idea when we’d like to retire?
When we do finally retire, do we have a plan in place to increase our chances of successfully selling our business?
Taking the time to ponder these questions (and more) can give us a bit more clarity on where we should be going with our business.
Planning for the future is never easy, but it’s something that all successful business owners do on a regular basis. Without drawing up a plan on where we’d like our business to go, we’re like a traveler without a map, always moving but never knowing exactly where it is we’re going to end up. Things move a lot more smoothly for us if we know where we’re heading and have some plans to help us get there.
When we’re engrossed in the day-to-day operations of our business, it’s hard to see how everything fits together. We really can’t get a view from 10,000 feet when we’re fighting on the front lines. It can be hard to see a way to that future money when we’re occupied entirely with the importance of making that now money.
Taking a break to assess exactly what we’re doing and how it fits in with our long-term goals is an important part in being a small business owner. Yes, we’re certainly losing some now money by not being in the field, crawling under a house. But the investment we’re making when we take time to consider our current situation can pay dividends (in future money) for a long time.
This is the first part of a two-part article. To read the second part CLICK HERE
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