Creating a business plan of significance

Robert A. Valente, CFP®, AEP®, CEO and Managing Member, RAV Financial Services LLC

Hurriedly you finished your business plan for 2011, and you attempted to include and compare this one-year projection into your three- and five-year plan. The year 2010 passed quickly. And again you find yourself in the reactive mode of just getting it done. You promised yourself in prior years not to continue this pattern of waiting until the last minute. Either you have become a creature of habit, or business plan writing is just another task to be done. Or are you questioning its relevance?

In your haste to complete your 2011 blueprint for success, you may not have considered two other factors impacting your business plan: How does this business plan correlate to your personal financial plan? And how does the business and financial plan fit into your overall reason of why you are in “this” business? What do you want to truly achieve?

These two concepts are not mutually exclusive. One drives the other, and is the underlying force in all that you do.

We all know intellectually that money is a tool and not an end unto itself. Our business is also a tool and an extension of who we are. When asked by others why we started this business we volunteered such reasons as desire for more freedom, create a legacy, get wealthy, etc. The pursuit of more money is a tangible goal that may leave many individuals unfulfilled. How much is enough? Does making more cause you to need even more? Money may be a partial descriptive for success, but what criteria do you use to measure significance?

These answers are the “tip of the iceberg.” Let’s look beneath the surface of the water and explore more in depth. So as you wrestle with pleasure and passion as two of the principles manifested by you in your business, let’s not forget purpose. Pleasure, passion, and purpose are three intentions that are present in our lives daily. Pleasure and passion are concepts more easily discussed, subject to change, and are more
temporal. Purpose is more enduring and meaningful with profound attitude and behavior implications. Purpose may be what contributes to your sense of significance.

So let’s tackle that illusive purpose. How do you identify that intangible that is your purpose in life, aligning that purpose in your life and creating significance in you? First you have to identify your purpose in all that you do.

On the surface, it starts with a correlated personal financial and business plan that will ultimately resonate with your inner values. Writing any plan without reviewing the conscious/spiritual (higher-self) “why” is an exercise in futility. I suggest putting the “horse before the cart.” So let’s begin at the beginning: What is your life’s purpose? The foundation of this combination plan begins by asking yourself three profound questions. These questions are taken from a book “Lighting the Torch: The Kinder Method of Life Planning” by George Kinder and Susan E. Galvan. I will share the two other questions in subsequent articles.

Question number 1:

I want you to imagine that you are financially secure, that you have enough money to take care of your needs, now and in the future. The question is, how would you live your life? What would you do with your money? Would you change anything? Let yourself go. Don’t hold back your dreams. Describe a life that is complete, that is richly yours.

The answers to this first question will engender several reactions. One of the reactions I have received from friends and clients is: I want to make an impact on people’s lives.

How do you make an impact on people’s lives? Who are the specific people in your life you want to impact? Family, employees, clients, community, the world? What is your definition of impact? A simple response may be to live a personal and business life of gratitude. Some say that an attitude of gratitude brings opportunities. Many comment that gratitude is contagious, and gratitude is enhanced by the Law of Attraction and operating within the context of the Law of Abundance. Authors write that we should be grateful for every event that we experience, and each event that happens should not be judged as good or bad. It is what it is, and we need to be conscious of what comes into our life and ask, “What was I supposed to learn by that experience?”

Sometimes it is very hard to function as a non-judgmental human being in this competitive business environment, but if it is part of our purpose in life, we will manifest a non-judgmental attitude to everyone we meet, thereby impacting people’s lives daily.

So the segue now is in transferring this “impacting people’s lives” into your correlated personal financial and business plan. Intangible principles and values now need to be converted into services and physical events that complement that inherent life purpose and value.

So continue to ask yourself Question #1 for the rest of the month. Do a journal of your thoughts and answers. Do your current business and personal financial plans demonstrate your newly discovered core values?

I look forward to your comments.

Robert A. Valente, CFP, AEP, is the CEO and managing member of RAV Financial Services LLC. Reach him at [email protected]

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