What should come first, your life plan or business plan? This question may seem like the same as the chicken or the egg one, but really it’s not nearly as perplexing as the later. Unfortunately for most, although the answer is quite clear to them, it is often the wrong one.
I am saying it is wrong from my own individual perspective. But then again, who am I to say that. The right answer depends on an individual’s situations, and let me talk about why I made that comment.
For most people, especially in America, their jobs are first priority. Not much thought is given to an individual’s “life plan”. Many have tried and many still do, however the world we live in today with all the external forces somehow compel us to take jobs in places we never planned on.
Why is this the case? There are many reasons. Globalization, interstate competition for business and many other factors play a role in companies relocating, downsizing or closing. When companies move, so do the jobs of the employees. If someone is solely relying on a job to pay the bills and support a family, that person suddenly has very limited, if NO choice at all.
Most people rely on a single source of income, their jobs. When jobs are taken away, so are homes, cars, credit cards and lifestyles. People start to compromise and in many cases move to where the jobs are. I often say that here in America, we find the job we want and then chase it and move to where it is.
In other less industrialized countries, families often choose where they want to settle and build a community, and then either find a job nearby or start a small business that brings in just enough money to support the family financially. Times are changing however and it will be very interesting to see other countries evolve over time.
I personally believe that one must think through their life plan before a business plan. I am using business synonymous to work or a job in this case. We all work to live and not live to work, at least I would like to think so. We all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (that’s deep). So what does the “pursuit of happiness” part mean? Does it mean chasing a job that gives us a 50% raise? Or does it mean staying near our family and friends and becoming actively involved in our community?
The meaning is relative and differs from individual to individual. But when we are forced to do something, such as relocate for a job to a place we are not too thrilled about, we often have to adjust or compromise on that “pursuit” don’t we? Many simply give up the pursuit all together. That is why so many people die at 35 and refuse to get buried until another 50 or so years later.
Don’t be that person. Plan your life and the way you want to live before you think about what is it that you want to do with your life from a financial perspective (whether it is a job or business). If you are in a situation where you have a family to support, keep doing what you are doing, but think of ways you can broaden your financial capabilities so that you can live the life you had planned for yourself eventually at some point. Start thinking about starting a side business so you can free yourself from the daily rat race.
When I reflect back to my personal life, I see action patterns consistent with my thought process today. I went to a top ten business school, got a Maters degree, got a CPA, a finance charter and several other alphabets after my name. I joined one of the biggest and most prestigious firms and worked hard to move up the ladder fast.
I started investing in stocks as well as real estate and did very well. I got involved with small businesses, as an owner and an investor and did very well there too. Unfortunately, my traveling schedule (work demands) kept me too busy and away from home too much. As a result my investments and side ventures were suffering and I was struggling to expand them while physically not being near them or able to dedicate more time on them.
The more I did this the more I realized that this was not what I wanted to be doing forever. What I wanted to do was to stop trading hours for dollars and start a small venture on the side that could free me from legalized slavery. In other words, I wanted to establish a profitable business on the side that worked for me and made me passive and residual income. I wasn’t afraid to work. I knew I was going to work hard anyway, and that time will pass by anyway, so why not work hard building something long term in nature? What I wanted was a passive business that generated residual income for me month after month so I could focus more on my life and enjoy my time here on Earth.
So why did I choose the internet as the medium through which I was going to make this happen? I knew that I wanted to build a passive business, but I didn’t know the Internet platform was going to be where I did this. I got involved in real estate and small business because these activities were passive for me, and I was doing very well until my professional career required me to travel significantly more.
I had a great career going, it paid very well, and I got to travel a lot, which is one of my passions. Unfortunately, being away from home kept me away from getting involved with ventures that required my physical presence while too much time spent traveling kept me from putting in the time I wanted to on others. Because I enjoy traveling, I wanted to delve into a venture that allowed me to balance my career and my passion for entrepreneurship while maintaining the mobile, traveling lifestyle. In other words, my life plan (or how I wanted to live my life) was the first priority on my list.
So I started studying the Internet and how it can be worked to my advantage. I learned about ecommerce and couple years later started, grew and eventually sold my first successful ecommerce venture. I then got involved with information based websites that made money from ad space, private placement ads, selling digital products like books and audio, affiliate marketing income as well as generating leads for other businesses.
The Internet model allowed me to work on my websites from hotels in various locations while I traveled for work. This is how I was able to balance my “business plan” with my “life plan” while maintaining a successful career. My business was (and is) mobile, portable, low cost, dynamic (easily “leveragable”) and something I enjoyed doing a ton (I still do!).
All I need today is my Blackberry and my laptop. As long as I have access to an Internet connection, put me anywhere and I will be just fine. I love frequenting coffee houses and bakeries like Panera (free wi-fi) where I can just go and set up shop anytime within operating hours. This business model is perfect for me, whether or not I choose to be employed.
Most people don’t get a chance to think this through. Life and work just kinda happens to them. Next thing you know they don’t know which happened first. It is like the chicken and egg dilemma. Not being able to solve that dilemma still bugs me today. Don’t be like most. Take some time today, step back and ask yourself how well does your work or business plan fit your life plan. Are you happy with how life is going? It’s never too late to make changes.
In my personal example, the Internet was the answer. But the business platform can really be anything for anyone. It just depends what you want out of your life. So give the idea of planning out your life plan before your business plan some thought to enjoy more satisfaction and fulfillment from both business and pleasure.
Readers: What’s your opinion? Life Plan or Business Plan? Why?
Read my thoughts on a life plan of financial abundance here.
Working to Live