Plan Your Life First is Step 1 of the Emerge Phase of the Indie Maker Method, our step-by-step, entrepreneurial training curriculum that helps you build a solid business foundation, increase your income, and use your business to create the life you love.
As a result of leading the Indie Business Network for nearly two decades, I receive a lot of questions from people wanting me to share my tips on experiencing sustained success in business. These questions come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the most frequently asked question is quite simply: how do I get started? This post provides a high level answer to that question, but not in the way you might think.
When people ask me this question, they seem to want a response that dives right into things like launching a website, setting up social media, attracting traffic to an e-commerce store, printing labels, taking product photos, and making money. All of those things are important, but in the vast majority of cases, for new entrepreneurs, each of those issues puts the cart before the horse.
If you want to build a sustainable business that is not only profitable, but which also enhances your life and makes you happy over the long haul, the best way to get started is to plan your life first.
How to Plan Your Life First
This is the critical missing piece for so many people, and it's easy to overlook. After all, when you look out across the vast landscape of the Internet at most of the business start-up resources, you see a lot about things like Facebook ads, email marketing, pricing, social media, and so forth, but you see relatively little about life planning.
Yet, as I coach and mentor entrepreneurs, year after year, I notice that failing to plan out their lives before planning out their businesses diffuses their focus and slows their progress.
You see, if the business you are building does not complement your life, then chances are good that you are setting yourself up for misery and hardship. Even if the business is successful, if you are unhappy at the helm of it, what's the point?
The smartest way to proceed, from the outset, is to plan out what you want your life to be like, and then layer a business model on top of that.
The first step to leading a sustainable business is to plan your life, so that you can plan a business around that life. But how do you get started doing this? Here are some ideas to help you jump start the process for you.
Plan Your Life First: What Our Members Say
• Janet Anderson and her husband of Pirate's Secret in Redding, California, built their business around their love for organic farming. They created a natural personal care product called “Pirate's Secret,” and they sell it at markets and fairs (and online) — and they dress up as pirates as they do it. Here's what Janet said when I asked her to share her thoughts and experiences on how to plan your life first.
We retired 10 years ago after traveling and then came back and built our dream house. This business allows us both to work the hours we want to make a little extra income. We both love dressing like pirates at our demos. It’s fun, we get to make the rules, we are helping people with skin issues and we get paid for it.
• Laura Luther of Olive My Skin in Southbury, Connecticut, is a single mom, so the ability to work in ways that also allowed her to be present for her kids has been critical. Here's what Laura said when I asked her to share her thoughts and experiences on how to plan your life first.
As a single mom to 3 teenagers, I need to have a flexible schedule. Working for myself has allowed me run a business, participate in school activities, and just generally be around when needed. My kids spend time in my candle studio to work off their data plan. Teaching my children to be passionate about what you do, whatever it is they choose, is one of the ways my business serves my lifestyle goals.
• Kismet Andrews of Bar Maids in Vancouver, Washington, has been in business for many years. The whole shebang was planned from the beginning around her life. Here's what Kismet said when I asked her to share her thoughts and experiences on how to plan your life first.
Today, you can find me in Portugal.
How perfect is that?
• Heather Havens Lux of True North Beauty in Lake View Plantation, Maine, left her corporate job to run her business last year, and just got married last month! Here's what Heather said when I asked her to share her thoughts and experiences on how to plan your life first.
Prior to leaving corporate America, I rushed out the door every morning and ate breakfast in my car on my hour-long drive to work. Now that I’m a full time entrepreneur, I start my day by having breakfast with my husband! It allows me to start everyday with something to be grateful for.
• Rachael Pontillo of Holisticaly Haute in Flourtown, Pennsylvania, is a home schooling mom with daughters who are involved in 20 hours a week of classical ballet training. Here's what Rachael said when I asked her to share her thoughts and experiences on how to plan your life first.
My kids' schedule is rigorous and requires a lot of my attention, and taxi-cabbing them around. It was crucial that my business fit into my life and provide me with the flexibility to change when necessary. Time management is a skill I have learned and practiced (and it's still a work in progress!). That, plus the support of my amazing team, makes it all possible.
• Stacia Guzzo of Handcrafted Honey Bee in Tehachapi, California, is a home schooling mom who prioritizes her children and her desire to create a business that she, her kids, and her husband can one day all work together. Here's what Stacia said when I asked her to share her thoughts and experiences on how to plan your life first.
Right now, my business is in a state of growth where we have little room for free time or travel. In fact, these days, we are canceling vacations and working on weekends. But everything is planned to absolutely lead to a lifestyle we have wanted for almost a decade, and we’re so close! My husband and I have always had the dream of working together, but the business has never made enough to sustain that. We’re poised to bring my husband on board in the business and away from his traditional job next year. The dream is finally coming true. I also homeschool my kids, and support five community members with meaningful employment. Handcrafted Honey Bee is absolutely forming the life I’ve always wanted!
• Sandy Engels of The Purple Sage in Ethel, Louisiana, is a wife and mom who adjusts her professional and business endeavors around her husband's shift work.
I have a shift working husband, and making my own hours has allowed me to spend time with him on his off days doing whatever we choose. When I worked a traditional job, I might only see him for a quick dinner at a restaurant before his shift started. But with my business planned around my life, I have raised my kids the way I wanted them to be raised. Today, I spend a lot of time with my grandson and I travel — all because I work my business around my life. It is not always an easy balance, but it is so worth it.
About the Indie Method™
As illustrated by the graphic, the Indie Method is my step-by-step, entrepreneurial training curriculum that helps you build a solid business foundation, increase your income, and use your business to create the life you love. This “layered learning” approach avoids overwhelm by delivering bite-sized action items, in a specific sequential 4-phase order: Emerge, Engage, Evolve, and Expand. Each phase has specific steps that, when taken one at a time, allow you to grow your business in a systematic way that avoids overwhelm and keeps you focused on your highest priorities within each phase.
The Indie Method entrepreneurial training curriculum is included with your Indie Business Network membership. Join today to take advantage of this and other exclusive member benefits.
I am so inspired and uplifted by these stories! What a wonderful thing that we live in a day and time when you can plan your very own entrepreneurial venture around the perfect life for you, and that you can tweak things as you and your family and other personal life endeavors evolve over time. How exciting is that? How are you ordering things to plan your life first as you grow your business? Please share your experience in this regard in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.