Planning for a successful future can seem like an event—a thing you do in the course of business. However, in many cases, this planning is much more like a relationship: with your loved ones who rely on you, with your employees, and with your advisors. When fostered, it can be one of the most fulfilling parts of your life.
Consider an example of how two business owners changed the course of their planning by viewing it as a relationship rather than an event.
A Change In View
Joanne Johnson had been meeting with her trusted advisor, Ava, every month for the past year to plan for how she and her husband, Jim, would eventually sell the business. As co-owners, Joanne typically handled front-end responsibilities. But in the planning process, this was starting to create problems.
There were decisions that required Jim’s input. One of their biggest issues was assuring that key employees didn’t leave the business before they achieved financial independence. But without Jim’s input, they couldn’t create incentive plans. Two key employees had already left for greener pastures because the planning process had stalled.
Politely but firmly, Ava told Joanne that unless they both attended planning sessions, it would be impossible for them to achieve their goals.
The next day, Ava received an email from Jim. He apologized profusely, explaining that he was afraid that by attending, he would make irreversible mistakes that would hurt the business. Ava requested that they talk on the phone about his concerns.
Ava patiently answered Jim’s questions while explaining the effects his absence was having on the plans he and Joanne were trying to execute. As Ava built trust, Jim began to come to their planning meetings. This allowed him and Joanne to more clearly identify key employees and incentivize them to stay with the business.
Be Not Afraid
Planning for a successful future can be nerve-wracking. You may feel that it could distract you from what you do best—running the business—and harm what you’ve built.
These fears are normal, but they can also launch you headlong into the very thing you’re trying to avoid: working against your own interests.
When business advisors work with business owners to plan for a successful future, they view the planning as relationship building, rather than a transactional event.
There are several reasons why they do this:
- Planning for a successful future requires financial independence that allows business owners to leave their businesses on their terms—terms that are unique to each business owner.
- Many business owners have family members and employees they want to protect, even after they leave the business.
- Successful planning often requires the coordination of different people and personalities toward a common goal.
Thus, viewing the planning process as an exercise in relationship building can make the process more consultative and less of simply a thing that you do.
You likely founded your business to carve your own path instead of just doing a job. Viewing planning for a successful future as a way to carve your own path to financial independence, instead of just doing planning, can help you take more control of the future you want for yourself, your business, and those you care about.