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Planning Through the Life Cycle of Your Business - Part 5

© 2013 Elena Fawkner

Part IV - Part V - Part I

This is the fifth and final part of a multi-part article on business 
planning through the lifecycle of your business.  Last week (Part IV),
we looked at the "Troubled Teens" and "Young  Adulthood"
which brings us to the final stages of midlife crisis 
and majestic maturity.

MIDLIFE CRISIS

Last week, we left off at young adulthood, a stage by which
time you've freed yourself of the restlessness and distractions 
of the Troubled Teens and your business is healthy and
dynamic.

Hopefully young adulthood will be a nice long run for you.
All good things, however, must come to an end.  And so it
is with your business.  You will inevitably reach a point where,
although your business is humming along quite nicely, the
spark, the excitement is gone and you begin looking around
for ways to recapture it.

The challenge here is not to throw away everything you've
worked so hard for in the process.  So how do you hold on
to your hard-won accomplishments yet keep things fresh
and exciting?  Answer: diversify.

You have this stained glass business down cold.  You've
implemented the strategies discussed in Part IV and have
engaged an assistant to free you from those (important) 
tasks that maintain but don't grow your business.  This has
freed you to concentrate on your core business, stained
glass windows, doors and lampshades.  But now that is
paling too.  What to do?

Remember, the key is not to lose what you've gained.  So
hire someone (or more than one) to manage your core 
business (stained glass creations) while you focus on 
diversification.

How can you diversify?  Well, one idea would be to 
collaborate with complementary businesses.  Continuing
with our stained glass example, why not join forces with
local architects and home builders on projects that can
feature your work?  Your unique stained glass windows
and doors could represent a distinctive competitive edge
for such businesses.  Similarly with interior decorators.
You get the idea.  Think outside the square and try and
form associations with complementary (not competitive)
businesses that can incorporate your designs into their
works.

Another idea for diversification is to run classes or
workshops for those interested in leadlighting as a craft.
You could supplement your workshops with a video
tape series and books.  Expand into seminars if you like,
too.  You'll find that these media lend themselves equally
well to many other types of craft businesses, so don't
limit yourself to leadlighting.  Diversification.  It's what will
keep you fresh and stimulated.  You haven't lost what
you gained along the way, you've simply expanded your
business to encompass other facets.

MAJESTIC MATURITY

This is the final stage of your business's lifecycle and it
represents different things for different people.  For some,
it means continuing on the path explained above.  A
continual expansion and diversification of the business,
employing staff as necessary to ensure you are continually
working on, rather than in, the business.

For others, majestic maturity means reaching a level of
accomplishment where you are satisfied with what you
have achieved.  Your personal and financial ambitions have 
been satiated and you no longer feel the need or the desire 
to personally continue with your business at all.  You may
decide to retire at this point.  If so, what are your options?
Well, assuming your business is a financial success, you
definitely don't want to just shut your doors and walk away.
There's value in the business you have created.  You just
need to find a way to realize it.  The obvious solution is to
sell your business as a going concern.

How you go about doing that will depend very much on the
nature of your business and your personal financial situation.
Do you want to sell your business and then just walk away?
If so, you can certainly do that, just contact a business broker.

But if you would like to retain some involvement, just not the
level of involvement you're at right now, consider franchising 
your business.  If your business can be "systematized"
in such a way that others need only copy your formula for
success, you can sell franchises rather than selling off
the business lock, stock and barrel.  In return for receiving 
a lump sum "franchise fee" and ongoing royalty payment from
your franchisees, you provide them with counsel and assistance,
marketing and promotion and whatever other forms of 
support is appropriate for your business.

Finally, even if you do decide to keep working on your business,
give some thought to succession planning.  Who is going to
take over and run your business if you can't?  This is a subject
none of us really wants to think about but for everything and
everyone there is a season.  Succession planning simply means
making provisions for what happens to your business in the
event of your retirement, death or disability.  Talk to your family
and professional advisers about this.  Your business is a
significant asset and, in a way, a life in being.  You wouldn't
leave your family not provided for, so don't leave your business
to fend for itself either.

_________________________

Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online.

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