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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


        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

        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

        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.


        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.


        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.


        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.


        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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