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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.


        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

        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 

        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

        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.


        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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