Your Business Really Is Your Life

It’s important to plan ahead and to keep doing so through your career. You may not need to have a business plan that’s carved in stone, but you do need a sense of what you want for the future of your business and your life outside of business. At the very least, you always have to be thinking about the exit strategy that’s right for you. Do you hope to sell your business when you reach a certain age? Do you hope to build up a business that your children can take over many years from now? Do you expect to have a second career down the road?

Even if you’re still in your 20s, that exit strategy is the most important part of your business planning. You may not have any intention of selling your business for decades, but it’s a concept that you need to consider in work and your planning. Once you have a firm sense of the exit strategy you prefer, you’ll find it easier to make decisions about managing your business. That exit strategy in the back of your mind will guide you to making the right choices along the way.

Another key part of keeping your work and home lives in balance is the impact of your agency upon your family’s day-to-day life. If you don’t maintain the proper balance, you can create problems that go far beyond financial issues. For example, stress can lead to health problems that carry significant costs in terms of finances and quality of life. Or, if you devote too much attention to your business, your family may come to resent the agency (and you by extension).

That’s why it’s important to involve your family in key decisions about your business. The better they understand your short-term plans and your long-term goals, the more they’ll accept the work you perform every day. You may not realize that your spouse and children may have anxieties about your business, just like you do. By keeping them apprised of your plans and activities, you help to mitigate their anxiety.

That doesn’t mean that your children need to make your strategic decisions for you, or that you should consult them about pricing. Frankly, most family members will find the nuts and bolts of your business dull and boring. But you can discuss the big picture issues with them. You can talk about the challenges you face and the steps you’re taking to address those challenges. Without divulging sensitive information, you can share stories about what you’ve done to help clients, or about humorous situations that have occurred. The better they understand what you’re doing and what you do every day, the more supportive they’re likely to be — even proud of the work you do every day and what you’ve accomplished.

Plus, if you hope to bring your children into the business, learning the basics at an early age will whet their appetite for greater knowledge as they grow older. If they have an affinity for the business, you’ll be able to impart what you’ve learned a little at a time. If they understand how their future fits into your exit plan, they may be more willing to stick around and learn what they need to succeed (or to let you know they have other plans, so you have plenty of time to adjust yours). And most important, they’ll have learned how to balance work and family in effective, positive ways.

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