Step 1: Your Obituary

Step 1: Your Obituary 

Where Are You Right Now

  • Your family
  • Your physical health
  • Your emotional health
  • Your spiritual health

Where Do You Want to Be?

  • Short-Term
  • Mid-Term
  • Long-Term

Step 2: Your Business’s Obituary

  • What will they say about your business when you’re gone?
  • Morales and Ethics
  • Will you focus on sustainment, growth, or a strategic exit

Step 3: Sustainment

Step 4: Growth

Step 5: Strategic Exit

Step 6: Your Life Review


Let’s look at why we started our business in the first place.  Remember the “Why” in Phase I?  Intrinsic to your start-up “why” is your personal “why.”  Why did you want to start a business in the first place?  Did you want more freedom?  Did you want to earn a better living?  Did you just want to escape a bad boss or job?  

These reasons compose your intrinsic dreams, desires, and wants.  They compose your personal purpose… your “why.” 

Some entrepreneurs get so involved in their business that they neglect their family and their physical and mental health.  I’ll do it tomorrow, can mean I’ll never do it!

Your schedule will conform to you priorities.  You’ll find you’ll have more time than you think if you align your business to your principles, values, and principles. 

You’ll find your will be more satisfied and happier if your view you business as part of your entire life and lifestyle. You see, you, your family, your friends, and your business will succeed if you are personally successful.  

When I was at the university, I found that my grades improved the more credits I tackled – to a point.  One semester I went from 16 to 9 credits and my grades suffered because of it.  Having a full credit load gave me purpose.  It also made me prioritize and plan my actions deliberately. With a small credit load, I thought I had all the time in the world and I squandered it.  I lost my purpose. In graduate school, I had a 19-credit quarter and I had the best grades going into finals.  I lost a little as I got sick and couldn’t maintain my rigorous schedule.  What happened?  I was doing great and then burnt out at the end.  You’ll find that you have time to do it all… to a point.

The “You”

Physical Health – What kind of physical activity are you doing? Are you fit or getting fat and “soggy?” Do you have less and less energy? I found that intentionally planned cardiovascular exercise improves my mental outlook and waistline. Infact, research backs up my personal experience. What physical activity are you interested in? Choose something you enjoy. Some may have a negative perspective on exercise. So for them, I suggest they find something easy – such as walking. Walking two miles almost as good as running two miles, except it is a lot easier. It can also be be enjoyable if you invite a friend.

What about strength training?  Can you find your muscles anymore?  It only takes 5 minutes to do push-ups and set-ups at home; and it can take 30 to 45 minutes to get a good workout at the gym. Plus the guy get  you out of the house and office.

Mental Health – If you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve too.  If you ignore your physical health the “you” inside of you will suffer. I know that regular exercise give me a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of purpose and happiness. When was the last time you investing in your emotional health, such as reading a personal improvement or enrichment book? 

Spiritual Health – This goes hand in hand with your physical and mental health.  How’s your faith in God?  Are you helping others?  Are you volunteering in the community? Are your cultivating your faith by engaging with those of similar beliefs?  Consider a men’s or women’s group?  If your are not a church goer, you still have a “spiritual” purpose.  Cultivate your spiritual side and find something larger than you. Think about giving your time to help others, such as a “kiss cancer goodbye” fund raiser or help out our furry friends at the humane society. By going outside of yourself, you find  you’ll ignite something within.

Your Family

Are you spending more time at work than you should?  Most businessmen and businesswomen do.  Many have to tear themselves away from their work.  But consider this, why build up a business and tear down your family?  It’s not worth the emotional and spiritual pain.  You need them and they need you.  Be deliberate with your family.  Lead your family!  Don’t follow.  Make time to go to your kids games.  Turn off the TV and play a board game.  Go camping or to a movie together.

I suggest setting a date night each week for your wife.  It’s also a good idea to make dates for you and your individual children.  Then for your family – that’s called a family vacation.  


Okay, you’re being deliberate about “you,” your family, and your business.  How is that possible?  You are using a planner a calendar or a spiral notebook… anything to be deliberate with your life.  You are a business person so that means you are leading your company.  You are a leader and so you are disciplined.  You are part of the leadership of your family.  If you’re not, you won’t have a successful business.  

You should always be learning and if you’ve gotten this far in this book you know I like to suggest good reads.  One I strongly suggest is the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People by Steven R. Covey ($10 to $24.00).  I’ve found this series of books to be the best around.  The author has several to choose from – they include help at work, your family, your children, and the original (the book I just suggested).  If you haven’t read it, get this book!  If you read it sometime ago, read it again.

Why am I so adamant about this book?  Because it’s about balance, goal setting, and “sharpening the saw.”  It actually changed my life.  It may change yours.


Once you’ve launched your business and you’ve make the inevitable adjustments to your operations and marketing, you will eventually be in a position to plan your next phase.  Essentially, sustainment is revisiting all the phases of the this guide and your original plan.  But, before you throw your hands in the air, let me suggest that you periodically review these element – don’t sit down are write them out.  By revisiting and continuing learning about business, you’ll be head and shorlders above most competition – who don’t deliborately plan for success.

Here’s my suggestions for your “sustainment plan.”  Review your operations after tax time – let’s say, May 1.  You can incorporate what you learned from your accountant about your prior year’s operations.  Then, make a basic plan for the year.  Budget money for your continued training, branding, and advertising.  


After tax time, you’ll have a better understanding of your expenses – then decide where you should cut back and where you should concentrate on.  Consider staff training, technology, branding improvements, etc.  I suggest putting together a big-picture plan that extends out three years.  Then plan for the year.  This will guide you where you want to be.

Brand, Marketing, and Advertising

If you remember back, advertising is one of the components of the Marketing Mix.  It’s not advertising exclusively.  Brand is also a component.  Is your business developing the reputation you wanted, when you make your start-up plan?  Is the look, feel, style, attitude, and service what you envisioned?  If not, make a deliberate plan to “make it happen.”  This is also a good time to review where you spent you advertising dollars on.  Was the spending effective?  If not, time for a course change.

Make a Plan

I suggest writing out a bulleted plan and organize it by quarter.  Put it near you so you can glance at it weekly.  The plan will be from a big-picture (three years out) perspective drill down to an annual, to quarter, to monthly goals and objectives.  You should have a monthly advertising plan that anticipates holidays and special events you may want to celebrate or hold sales for.  Some people 3×4 foot desk calendar and write their plans on it – then hang it (as a quarter or monthly) on the wall.

The point is this, be deliberate and don’t just manage by the seat of your pants and then adjust as you progress through each month and quarter.  As you get really good at it you’ll start thinking about expansion.  Whether you want to expand or not, read the next part – it discusses the product life cycle, which your products or services progress through.  Your business is the aggregate of your major products (services) so make sure you understand where you product is within the cycle.  You don’t want to wake up one day wondering what happened as your competitors pass you by – or worse, you’re going out of business.

Grow, Maintain, or Exit?

When considering weather you grow, maintain your position, or exit, it is essential to understand where your products or business is its life cycle.  The Product Life Cycle model fits well into our decision  When considering our next “move,” we should first understand were our business is and if there’s a future in it.  There are four phases of the cycle and each has its advantages and disadvantages – thinking businesses adapt their strategy to their position in their business’s life cycle.  

Some product cycle last months and some last decades or even centuries.  Remember the Bennie Babies in the 1990s (probably not)?  That product lasted about one year and players made a lot of money during the very short growth and maturity stage.  Those that got in too late make may have even lost money.  The market lasted for about one Christmas season.  Lets’ look at cell phones.  The device went through the product cycle to be replaced with smart phones in about 10 or 12 years.  Real estate in Japan is on the decline and growing (again) in the United States.  As long as the population grows, the real estate “product” will continue to grow.  In some communities, such s Detroit, MI, real estate is in the decline.  

Exhibit-A is a typical product life cycle.  Look at the graphic and compare the Bennie Babies, cell phones, and real estate.  Now, where is your business (or major product(s))?

Product Life Cycle


Once you’ve decided which stage of the life cycle your business or major products are in, you can extimate its future and yoru strategy accordingly.  

Your Lifestyle Considerations

More to come…

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