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How to Plan the Life Cycle of Your New Small Business - Part 3

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Planning Through the Life Cycle of Your Business - Part 3

Part II - Part III - Part IV

© 2013 Elena Fawkner

This is part three of a multi-part article on business planning
through the lifecycle of your business.  Last week we tackled "Toddlerhood",
learning how to crawl, walk and run.  In our newest edition, we look at
the next stage of your business life cycle - the "Terrible
Two's".

THE TERRIBLE TWO'S

The period the "Terrible Two's" should not be treated too
literally.  Although it may well be at the two year mark for
your business, it may come earlier or later.  What we're
looking at now is crunch time.  The time when your
business has reached the point where you can no longer
handle both it and your outside job (or, if you're a stay
at home parent, it and your family responsibilities).  In
other words, your business is rapidly becoming a full-time
venture.

At this point, you need to make a critical decision.  Do you
make room in other areas of your life to allow your business
to continue to expand to its fullest potential or do you
instead retard its growth, thereby confining it to manageable
proportions?

The decision is one that requires a consideration not only
of business issues but personal ones as well.  Don't be too
quick to say "well, of course, I'm not going to stunt the
growth of my business!  That would be crazy, I've worked too
hard."  OK then, what's going to give?  Are you prepared to
give up your day job?  Are you prepared to put your kids
into daycare?  Just how far are you prepared to go?

Now, understand there are no right and wrong answers here.
You must do what's right for YOU.  You're directing this
movie, no one else.  So think about what YOU want, not what
others want for you or what they want for themselves from you.
(And no, I'm not talking about children here.  Well, only the
ones over 35.)

If you're currently in the full-time paid workforce, think
laterally about your options.  Is it possible to start working
part-time instead of full-time, for example?  Is it possible to
take an unpaid leave of absence for three months to really
put your business to the test before cutting the cord with
your employer?

Really think through all the issues.  You're going to have to
give up your employer-funded pension plan and medical
benefits.  Paid vacations, too, will become a thing of the
past.  Your income will be directly proportionate to how
successful you are at marketing your business.  How will
you cope, both financially and emotionally, if you have to
go for an entire month without making a single sale?  What
financial reserves do you have?  How long will they last?

And the difficulty only increases if you have young children
to care for.  To run your business on a full-time basis means
you can't also care for your children on a full-time basis
unless, of course, you find a way of existing on one hour
of sleep a night.  So, the reality is that you may need to
put your children in daycare, at least part-time.  If you're
a stay at home parent by choice, that's likely to be difficult
for you.  It may go against everything you believe.  If so,
that's OK.  You don't HAVE to make your business a
full-time, all or nothing kind of thing.  In your case,
deliberately limiting the growth of your business makes
perfect business sense!  Don't fight the facts, as they
say in law school.  Just work with your circumstances.

Whatever you decide, decide you must.  Now, as I said,
this may not necessarily be the two year mark for your
business.  It may be the four year mark or the one year
mark.  The important thing is to recognize it when it
comes.  Here are some warning signs:
 

1.  CONSTANT RUSH

You're in a constant rush.  You don't feel that you have the
time to do anything properly and everything you do is done
only half as well as you're capable of.  You begin to feel
like Jack of all trades, master of none.
 

2.  TIME BEGINS TO FEEL LIKE AN ENEMY

You feel the constant pressure of time getting away from
you.  You always have the feeling there's not enough hours
in the day.  You begin "cheating" time.  You get up an hour
earlier every day to get a head start; you work through
lunch; you never take a break; you begin "stealing" time
from your employer because you're just so tired at night
to even think about new window designs.
 

3.  YOU DON'T DO ANYTHING THAT ISN'T WORK OR
BUSINESS RELATED

You realize that every single thing you do during the course
of your day has something to do with either your work (or
your family responsibilities if you're a WAHP) or your
business.  There is zero time for you.  Remember how you
used to set aside time for yourself every Sunday night to
take a long, leisurely bath?  Well, you can't even remember
the last time you did that.  These days a quick five minute
shower is a luxury.  Even driving to and from work is occupied
with thoughts of what you're going to do when you arrive at your
destination.  No more just happily humming along listening to
your favorite music station.
 

4.  YOU CAN'T TURN YOUR MIND OFF

Even if you're cajoled by your spouse into taking a vacation
or even a weekend away, you're so preoccupied with what's
not getting done at home and at work that you might as
well not have come.  You're not there anyway.
 

5.  YOU'RE TIRED ALL THE TIME

You never seem to be able to get enough sleep.  You fall
asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow and it seems like
only five minutes until the alarm goes off the next morning.

And on and on it goes.

By the time you get to this stage, what began as an
exciting new adventure has become an albatross around your
neck, just one more thing to drag you down.

You begin to feel that you can't go on much longer.  Well, guess
what?  You're right.  You CAN'T go on like this.  So, what's going
to give?  Something has to.  Things have reached critical mass.
Make the decision, then do whatever it takes to make it work.

This concludes Part 3 of this article.  Stay tuned for Part 4
next week when we look at the relatively easier and happier
times of Troubled Teens (I kid you not) and Young Adulthood.

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