“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao-Tzu
If you were to advise the next generation as they enter the workforce, you would probably tell them that real life is very different than school. It’s possible to cram for exams, pull an all-nighter and get a reasonable pass on the test. But life isn’t like that. Steady, intelligent effort over time builds a business.
And yet, when it comes to selling their businesses, many entrepreneurs, even those in their sixties, think that it’s too early to plan. Perhaps they think they can cram for the big event.
Business owners generally find that day-to-day activities and urgent tasks consume the bulk of their time, leaving little opportunity for focused thought and planning. Without committing specific times for the important work of planning, the less important, but urgent tasks take over, forcing you to cram on the big issues.
It’s easier to tackle a huge job like selling your business if you take it one step at a time. Can you find two or three hours per week to begin the journey? Surely for something this important, you could. But it won’t happen if you don’t slot it into your calendar.
What can you accomplish in only three hours a week? Not much if you only give yourself six months. But a great deal if you give yourself four or five years.
Start with these steps:
- Take a day or a weekend away from the business. Reflect on what’s important to you. Visualize what your world would look like in five years if everything was going perfectly. Capture that vision in words or pictures and find a way to look at it every day. This is your motivation – the vision you are moving toward and the reward that will justify the steps you are about to take.
- Set specific long-term goals that, when accomplished, will help make your vision a reality. For example, “By January 1, 2018, I will have created a Due Diligence binder that could be given to a prospective new partner or owner, enabling him/her to clearly understand the value of the business, the advantages we have over our competition and all the data required to make a confident decision to purchase my business.”
- Break your long-term goals into smaller, short-term goals. For example, “In the next 90 days my team will have committed to working on the Due Diligence Checklist and will be able to report at least 10 items have been accomplished.
- Commit to completing or making progress on one item on the Due Diligence Checklist every week.
One small step a week adds up to 250 steps in five years. That’s a manageable way to get your business ready!