Your business – balancing your dream and your livelihood
Chances are you realized a long-held dream when you took that big step and started your own business. It takes courage and determination to be self-employed, but unfortunately often the excitement and enthusiasm are overshadowed by financial worry.
Unless you are in the financial position of being able to donate your services, your business must be financially viable to ensure you can continue working there. Regardless of your field, whether it is in the caring, creative, or any other professional arena, your decision to be self-employed was probably inspired by your desire to make a difference. So are you disheartened that you are giving your heart and soul to your chosen career and yet are less financially successful than you would like to be? How can you ensure that your dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare?
The short answer is – plan and focus.
When asked, most people will say they simply don’t have time to make weekly, monthly and yearly plans and goals – they are too busy trying to keep up with the steady stream of to-do items that they hope will lead them to success. But the irony is that by setting aside precious time to plan, you actually end up with more time to devote productively with increased focus to your business.
Most small business-owners need to find a healthy balance between spending too much time running after new clients when business is good, and worrying about not having enough business during the slow times. Your weekly, monthly and annual plans will help you retain your long term perspective and focus, and ensure that you use your time much more effectively.
Your weekly and monthly plans help you reach your short term goals, as they keep you working on the critical tasks while minimizing your efforts spent on less important issues. However, an annual plan is crucial for long term financial stability. Most professions have quieter and busier months, and yet the overhead costs are usually constant. Your annual budget gives you an overview of how much you are earning over a twelve month period, so that you don’t get carried away when looking at the earnings from more successful months, and alternatively don’t get despondent when looking at leaner periods.
Creating an annual plan enables you to use your quieter times productively. See them as an opportunity to review your progress and generate ideas for improving areas as required. That takes time – and often it is a trial and error process, but when you are focused on a specific direction instead of chasing your tail, you go forward rather than round in circles! Track what worked well and what didn’t and it will help you make decisions to take you further.
Although the structure of the weekly, monthly and annual plans are crucial to your business’s financial success, there are many other critical issues that impact on your financial situation.
How much do you charge for your services? Are your fees too high or too low?
Do you charge the same amount at all times of the year and to all people?
How do you manage your client expectations to save time and avoid misunderstandings?
Do you have a clear engagement letter or cancelation policy?
Are you paying enough taxes during the course of the year to avoid surprises at the end of the year?
How do you balance your dislike for self-promotion with your need to advertise your services?
The above battery of questions is not intended to overwhelm you, but rather give you something to think about. In the coming months I hope to cover these questions and many more issues that impact on the healthy running of a business – and in many cases a household too.
Running a successful business can be complicated but going back to the basics is often more critical than we realize. With sufficient planning and awareness you can move your business in the direction you always dreamed of – and turn it into a professional and financial success.