Is Business Planning an Indulgence?

Business Planning Takes Time and Effort

What do you want your lifewriting business to accomplish in the next 12 months? Take some time right now and start with business planning.

You don’t have time, you say. Planning is an indulgence? Think of this parable:

A person is sawing a tree and is obviously harried. A second person approaches and asks, “How long have you been sawing?”

“Oh, all day and I’m exhausted. Look at how much I have left to do!”

The second person suggests, “Your saw is dull. You need to sharpen it.”

The first retorts wearily, “That might be a good idea for some other people, but I just don’t have the time to do that. Don’t you see how much tree I have left to cut! Get real.”

Take the time to sharpen the “saw” of your business life by doing some business planning.

Business planning need not be arduous. In fact, it can be rather simple and very satisfying. What I am offering here is a do-able process. I call it a business plan but I might also have called it a strategy plan. (What follows is eminently useful. For more information on formal business plans, visit your local library or bookstore.)

You need to start with a mission statement. A mission statement is a paragraph about what you want to accomplish. Mission statements do not include income considerations. Rather, they contain the reasons you are drawn emotionally to this sort of work as opposed to others. (Why you do the particular work you have chosen rather than some other work.)

The goal of a mission statement is to be lofty, to say what you want to do–as if money were no object.

A mission statement answers the question: Why am I in this business and what do I hope to achieve spiritually and ethically?

A mission statement will enlighten your activities all year long; checking your activities and choices against it regularly will ensure that you stay on the track of what is good for your soul. You will use it to assess the rest of your plan. Mission statements can come easily to lifewriting workshop leaders. We love ideas and we love being of service. The exercise that follows is less in line with our inclinations, but I’ve found it to be the backbone of success.

While we are in this particular business for reasons that have to do with nurturing our souls, we must never forget that we are also trying to support ourselves with this very lifewriting business.

Many people work assiduously, never quite getting on top of things no matter how hard they try. Others seem to succeed more easily. While the reason can sometimes be outside of ourselves, it is frequently inside. The difference may be that some people plan their work and organize their work life in a way that maximizes their success.

Let’s start business planning.

The first thing to do is to establish the income you want/feel you need to earn yearly from your business. Your work, if it is to be financially rewarding, should be driven by your realistic income goal.

Let’s say, for the sake of this discussion, that you want to derive $50,000 from your effort. Don’t start by filling your schedule with as many workshops and tele-classes as you can get and hope that they will add up to $50,000. Instead, translate $50,000 into the number, the length, and the frequency of workshops you MUST present to earn your income. This will be your OPERATING schedule for the next year.

Your goal is not to be busy. It’s not even to help people, though your mission statement will certainly include that. Your business goal is to be financially rewarded as you do meaningful work.

Here is an example of what you might calculate if your product were a workshop:

1) Say the workshops last 15 hours (five sessions of three hours each).

2) If you attract 12 participants for each workshop (a reasonable number) and they each pay $540 per series (15 hours x $12/hour), you will earn $6,480 per workshop series. (Will you be offering tuition rebates? If so, estimate how much that may come up to and subtract that figure from the $6,480. Offer rebates only as a way to fill your classes at the last minute!)

3) To earn the theoretical $50,000 per year, you will have to deliver 7.7 workshops– let’s go with 8!.

In practical terms, this comes out to 4 workshops in the September-December trimester, 4 in the January-April trimester, and none in the May-August trimester or 3 workshops in the September-December trimester, 3 in the January-April trimester, and 2 in the May-August trimester– you make your own mix.

Very do-able! I have left out our income and social security tax liability. To figure these out, you can go on the web and get current percentages charged and add the taxable amounts to the income you wish to bring home.

When business planning is done with desired outcomes in hand a sort of focus is developed and a map is made that will readily deliver you to your destination, whatever that may be for you. A key is also staying the course! Plan your work and work your business plan.

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