Tag Archives: Work life balance

Does my Business Plan need a Mission Statement?

Mission statements are just corporate waffle, about “empowering”, “finding new paradigms” and “evangelising findings”. Right?

Mission: Impossible?

Mission: Impossible?

This is how I have always felt, that it’s something for major multi-nationals, not for me… until now.

Recently I have been working in developing Business Plans with two (very different) clients. As part of my preparation for this I started working on my own Business Plan.

It has been about two years since I wrote my original plan. At that point I was just beginning – exploring what I wanted to do and trying to work out what my clients valued about the work I was doing for them.

So it was very vague in some ways, but it was specific in others. For example I knew, and wrote down that I wanted to limit my working hours to school hours, and then only during term time.

This has proved really valuable – when things were going badly I could remind myself what my original idea was and see that if I could pull it off it would be worth it.

Once or twice people suggested full time roles to me which would have been financially lucrative, but demand much more time. My written down business plan enabled me to compare those opportunities to my expectations and see if a job was something that was worth sacrificing my flexibility for. Clearly it wasn’t, or I wouldn’t be writing this now!

Over the course of the last year things have gradually fallen into place and so it seemed like a good time to refresh my business plan to fill in the gaps in the previous one, and set new targets for the next few years.

I have developed my own template for my clients’ Business Plans; a bit more personal and detailed than some of the generic internet ones but basically covering the same material. So, I worked through it and finally came to the mission statement (I think you should leave the Mission Statement to last, because sometimes it’s difficult to understand what’s important until you have focused deeply on what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do that.

Dawn breakingInitially I thought that I might just write a sentence, but I have recently read “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” which extols the benefits of having a Mission Statement that means something to use as a guide to what really matters. So I really thought about it and lo and behold I settled on:

“I will help small businesses control their outcomes by taking the time to understand their practices and problems and by respecting their hard work and their trust in me. ”

This reflects my clients’ feedback on how they feel about the way I work, but most importantly I feel that if I can stay true to this I will be really proud of and fulfilled by what I do.

With a Business Plan that’s written down I have the ability to look back in one, two or even five years and see how the actual progress compared to my plan.

So, to answer my original question, I think my Business Plan is better for having a statement at the beginning that sums up, in one sentence, what it is that’s important to me and what I’m aiming for.

How can I balance work and children?

There are two small people in my life, and while I love spending time with them I also love the work I do (and earning money is always good!).

When I first started exploring the possibilities of working part time in North Devon I realised that a) there wasn’t much any part time accountancy work that I was interested in and b) I would have to drive at least 40 miles to find it, making the exercise pointless.

cakeSo my only other option was to start my own business, but could I really have my cake and eat it – work only during school hours and only during term time?

I was very lucky to get some fabulous advice from another Management Accountant/ working Mum who has built her business on that principle; she said that it is possible IF YOU ARE HONEST ABOUT IT.

So, when I meet people in a business context I am completely upfront about the hours I work and why. I do work during the holidays, but more from home and usually after bedtime. My clients can try to contact me any time if they have a problem, and I will try to help them as best I can (although the mobile phone service round here sometimes makes that difficult).

And it’s true! I think my clients, all of whom are parents themselves, actually quite like it. They know that I am really committed to their businesses, they like the results and they like the honesty.

It’s not all plain sailing; I definitely focus more effort on my clients than I do on cleaning or gardening. But most importantly, I don’t think my children have even noticed! They have so much fun at school and I’m still available to go to school activities when required… or maybe it just means that they are used to living with me! That and the fact that my husband is a hero with a hoover.