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Financial Resilience: Having a Game Plan in Business and Life

 

Some of you know from personal experience that launching your own business can be one of the most hazardous, frustrating and, potentially, rewarding experiences of your life. The difference between a successful business and a flop is a sound and realistic plan.

Whether or not you are in business or have any plans to be, business planning skills are extremely valuable in planning your personal finances and in any workplace where you have to manage a budget.

What the Plan Does for You

Even if you’re writing a plan in order to secure financing or for some other external reason, you should write it for your own benefit first. Your plan is what will take your passion and turn it into a viable strategy.

One of the best introductions to business planning we’ve ever seen was given by Mark Cawley of the Ottawa Community Loan Fund. As he put it, the difference between the OCLF, a public-private investment partnership, and a bank, is that the bank doesn’t care how sound your business plan is when they finance you- they’re getting their investment back one way or the other. It’s in your interests to make sure that you have a plan to put your money to good use, over and above what anyone else wants from your plan.

In business, that means you have to regard every expense as an investment that you will leverage in order to build your company. If you’re making a financial plan for a larger company, government department or charity, you have to go in with pretty much the same mindset. Don’t just try to cover your operating costs- look for the leverage points that will make your endeavour more successful.

In business, building a sound plan will force you to figure out in detail:

– What you know and what you still need to learn about your field
– How to build a knowledgeable and capable team
– Which Point of Pain you’re initially attacking for which target market
– How receptive that market is to your solution
– How to sell that product to them
– Your marketing and distribution models
– What resources you need to implement and market your products
– Price points and expected earnings
– Next steps

Who to Listen To

A lot of people have said a lot of things about business planning and budgeting. Basically, there are two kinds of people you should listen to- those who have succeeded in your position, and those who have invested their own money in your field. If you know what you need to look for in order to succeed and what investors would want to see in order to secure their investment, chances are you’re on the right track.

Be Adaptive

Every plan has to be adapted and tweaked over time. Chances are, your first plan will need to adjust for new things you learn along the way, so there has to be a constant process of feedback and adaptation. The important thing is not to lose sight of the big picture to the degree that you lose track of your financial goals.


“Back-to-School Bomb-Proofing”

It’s that time of year again… sigh!  At least, that’s what most people seem to think of the end of the summer vacation period and the resumption of “business as usual”.

While there’s no need to associate this transition with negative emotions – and we should all be careful to avoid that – there are certain facts we have to face: the pace of life will pick up at work, at home and in most every facet of your life.  Long story short, your personal resilience will likely be tested 😉

Interestingly enough, September 1 used to be New Years in the old East Roman (Byzantine) Empire and, in many ways, it’s at least as much of a transition point for us in the modern West as January 1st is.  In other words…

…it’s a great time to take stock, see where we are and clarify where we want to go.  With that in mind, here’s a simple process you can use right away to help significantly improve your results in life by the time New Year 2013 does roll around!  I would advise you to do this with pen and paper the first time – you can make a “good copy” later.   For the moment, you need to give yourself permission to scribble and be messy!

Step 1: Clarify What You Want

What would your life look like on January 1, 2013 IF you had a magic wand?  You can think of separate areas in your life, such as your health, your relationships, your career and finances.  Or you can use categories such as physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relational and financial.  The important thing is to be very clear on what you want to see.

Keep in mind this is just four months away, so you don’t have to get into deep and heavy debates with yourself about your ultimate life-purpose.  This is a pretty short time-frame, but one long enough that you can do lots to change how well it works out for you.

Step 2:  Define What You Have to Accomplish

Using the vision you came up with of what your life will look like at the start of 2013, list all the goals you would have to reach to make this vision a reality.  For example, if you want to improve your health, you may decide that requires you to commit to a specific dietary regime.  And voila!  You have one goal to write down.  Or dealing with an issue that’s disrupting your relationship with your significant other might mean the two of you need some professional counseling.  So that could be a second goal.  Those are just some examples to help get you started.

It’s important to write these goals down as fast as you can.  Don’t over-think this part of the exercise.  You may well end up with a pretty long list and that’s just fine!

Step 3:  List Your Top 3 Goals

Naturally, it’s unrealistic to attempt changing everything in your life at once – you need to prioritize.  So ask yourself, “Which three goals, if I committed totally to them, would have the greatest positive impact on my life?”

I know, sometimes it’s not easy to prioritize, but it is definitely worth the effort.

Step 4:  What Actions Will Get You to Your Goals?

This is the dreaded “how-to” step, the one that leads to the most frustration when you realize that what you want to achieve may appear to be impossible or you may not have the slightest clue where to start.

It’s really important to keep it light with this step.  Don’t let yourself get scared or frustrated; just write down everything you can think of.  If you have no idea how to accomplish something, just laugh and then realize that someone somewhere does and all you need to do is find them.

Step 5:  Evaluate Your Mindset

Think over each goal separately.  As you do, use a scale of 1-10 to evaluate your resistance to that goal, where zero is no resistance when you think of that goal (i.e., you feel good about it) and ten is over-the-top total resistance.

Try this a few times for each major goal and preferably on different days.  Once you know whether you have significant emotional resistance to a specific goal, you are FAR ahead of 99% of the population.  First of all, very few people have ANY idea what they are trying to accomplish at any given time.  And even most people who do set goals, omit this critical step.

Step 6:  Remove the Resistance

If you DO feel significant emotional resistance to a goal that’s really important to you, despair not!!  This often happens and is not a bad sign.  And in most cases it’s not a signal the goal is wrong for you.  So here’s what you can do…

The easiest method for blowing away this type of resistance is through a meridian tapping technique, such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or Thought Field Therapy (TFT).  If you don’t know either one, I would strongly suggest you find a practitioner local to you and arrange a session.  After one or two sessions you should be able to use the technique on yourself and remove resistance in a matter of minutes.

I can promise you that if you’ll apply this planning procedure, you’ll be far more clear on what you want to achieve and have a far more pleasant experience getting there!

Happy planning!!

~Dr. Symeon Rodger


Resilient Car Shopping… Who Knew?

“I’m sorry, we just can’t help you out more with the winter tires,” said the stony faced business manager at the Toyota dealership, as my wife and I exchanged glances of disbelief.  

“We don’t have to put up with this,” my wife told this guy, and then we got up and walked out, telling him he had just killed a new car deal that had been days in the making.  And, by the look of disbelief on the face of the junior sales lady who had worked so hard to close the deal, we weren’t the only ones in shock.  

Resilience and Car Shopping 101:

Yes, as you’ll see, resilience really does apply to everything in daily life, in one way or another.  Before we get to that, though, let me bring you up to speed on what had just happened…

You see, my wife and I were out looking for a new car for her on Saturday and we’d just gone back to the Toyota dealership where we’d bought our previous vehicle, a Toyota Sienna van, many years ago.  Just this past weekend Toyota was offering a special where, presumably in an effort to get rid of the 2010 cars, they’d sweeten the pot with a new free set of winter tires – something we can’t live without up here in Canada.  Sounds great, of course, until they tell you… well… you do get the tires… it’s just that you have to pay nearly $400 for the rims!!!

 Toyota Corolla


Well, a tire without a rim isn’t good for anything at all, unless you plan to turn it into a swing for the kids or a planter for your garden.  So we felt a little deceived and then we thought for sure they’d toss in the rims for free in order to get a new car sale worth about sixty times that much, especially to a returning customer.  But they wouldn’t budge.

Yes, car shopping is usually one of life’s more unpleasant duties, since it seems you’re bound to run into some of the less savory aspects of human behavior – duplicity, dishonesty and manipulations of all kinds.  Fortunately, we were prepared for that because we had…

Multiple Back-Up Plans

 As we walked out of the Toyota dealership in disgust, we weren’t at all upset.  You know the saying in romance that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince?  Well car shopping can be a lot like that.  Once you’ve settled on the model you want, it’s just a matter of finding someone who will treat you well and give you straight and honest answers. 


To minimize our time and pain this time around, here’s what we had done:


1. We outsourced the project of finding the best deals on 6 different models (two each with Toyota, Honda and Nissan) and our research person did a brilliant job!


2. We spent an afternoon the previous weekend test driving the 2 models we’d narrowed it down to – the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic.  Both are great to drive and the road tests just confirmed we’d made the right choice.  Needless to say, we’d also meticulously researched the reliability of these 2 models already, using low cost and widely available sources.


3. Once we’d decided what exact model of Corolla or Civic we wanted and with what options, we emailed a broad selection of Toyota and Honda dealerships within 2 hours of home and asked them for a quote.  Most of them replied within 48 hours and that gave us a really good idea of the lay of the land concerning prices and what they could offer.


4. Then we took the top few from each company and started relatively close to home.  We went back to our old Toyota dealership not only because they should have had a huge interest in getting repeat business, but because they’d submitted a highly competitive quote.  However, when they treated us badly, we had a ton of offers to fall back on.  And that’s when my wife said something that left me speechless.  “Let’s go to Honda,” she said.


You see, she really liked the Corolla and would have taken it over the Civic, while my preferences were exactly the reverse.  


So off we went to the most competitive Honda dealership… and the experience there compared to Toyota was like day and night.  They were absolutely up-front with us from the moment we walked in – nothing hidden, no deceptive wording, a good price.  All in all, a great experience.  And, as I said, once you’ve decided on what car you want and how much you’re willing to pay for it, all you have to do is find the dealership that will make it as painless for you as possible.

 Honda Civic

I should add that I’m sure there are lots of honest Toyota dealerships out there and quite possibly some Honda ones you’d want to avoid – it seems to be more the people than the company who sets the tone.  



Resilient Car Shopping in Brief:



Just to recap what we did to make buying a new car as easy and quick as possible, while protecting ourselves from being “taken for a ride” in the bad sense:

  1. We did the research up front to narrow down the selection of models, decide on option packages and learn about general price ranges.  Acceptable models had to have exceptional reliability – that’s my big hang-up about cars.

  2. Then we test drove the 2 top vehicles just to make sure we liked what we saw and didn’t see any glaring design flaws we couldn’t live with.

  3. Next, we sent out requests for quotations – this saved us a ton of time driving all over the map to various dealerships.

  4. Finally, we zeroed in on the people who a) had made a competitive bid and b) were honest and forthright with us.

The best part about this methodical approach is that you know you’ll never have to sink to the level of mind games and manipulative negotiating tactics yourself.  And the moment they do, you just walk out and say the magic word “Next!”

The alternative could have been exponentially worse.  As a friend of mine who’s a veteran negotiator put it, “If there’s one class of people you want to avoid, it’s car salesmen.”  I’m happy to report there are some notable exceptions to his statement.


So whatever project you have coming up, remember that planning your approach with a view to minimizing your commitment of time, energy and money, not to mention your exposure to needless pain, is the way to go.  And that will leave you a more resilient and happier camper!


~ Dr. Symeon Rodger





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