Beginning with the End in Mind: A Strategic Approach to Your Career or your Business

 

One of the most powerful habits you can develop is beginning with the end in mind. This is my favourite of the The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,”  by Stephen Covey in his book. Whether you’re starting a new job, running a business, or embarking on any major project, having a strategy for how you see it ending can give you clarity and focus.

 

Here’s the why and the how:

 

The Importance of an Exit Strategy

When you start something with a clear vision of its conclusion, it adds a layer of accountability and purpose to your efforts. You become more intentional about your actions, knowing they contribute to a well-defined goal. This is particularly relevant for those of your who have been in your current roles or running their businesses for years, feeling restless or unfulfilled but unsure how to pivot.

 

If you haven’t thought about your exit strategy, now is the time! For those just starting, pausing to consider the end can set a strong foundation for future success.

 

Why This Matters Now

There are two key reasons why this concept is especially pertinent today:

 

The Mass Exodus of Women Over 45 from Corporate Roles: Many women in this demographic are leaving corporate jobs to start their own businesses. Understanding how to strategically exit from these ventures is crucial for their long-term success and satisfaction.

High Failure Rate of Small Businesses: Approximately 60% of small and medium enterprises fail within the first three years. By planning with the end in mind, new business owners can better navigate the challenges and increase their chances of success.

Five Key Steps to Begin with the End in Mind

To effectively implement this strategy, consider these five essential steps:

 

Create a Vision and Mission

 

Start with a clear vision of what you want to achieve and why. This vision should include personal goals, such as work-life balance and financial objectives. Once you have a vision, develop a mission statement that outlines how you will achieve these goals.

 

Evaluate from an External Perspective

 

Look at your business or role from the viewpoint of a prospective buyer or employer. How would they perceive your organization or your professional profile? Identify areas that need improvement and take steps to address them. This might involve enhancing your personal brand, streamlining operations, or improving team dynamics.

 

Know the Rules

 

Understand the legal and financial rules that apply to your situation. If you’re employed, be aware of non-compete clauses, notice periods, and succession plans. For business owners, understand tax implications, capital gains, and the legal aspects of selling your business. Knowledge of these rules will help you make informed decisions and avoid unpleasant surprises.

 

Define Your Success

 

Establish a clear definition of what “done” looks like for you. This involves setting specific, measurable goals that signify the completion of your project or role. For a business, this could mean reaching a certain revenue milestone, building a substantial client base, or achieving a set number of years in operation. For a career, it could mean reaching a particular position or gaining specific experiences.

 

Set a Timeline

 

Determine how long you want to stay in your current role or run your business. Plan for your career transitions and eventual retirement. Consider the bigger picture and what lifestyle changes you aspire to achieve. Having a timeline keeps you focused and helps you align your daily activities with your long-term goals.

 

Your Action Plan 

Let’s put these steps into a practical context. Suppose you’re a business owner who dreams of retiring in ten years. Your vision might include a profitable business that operates smoothly without your daily involvement. To achieve this, you might:

 

Set a Revenue Goal: Aim for a specific annual revenue.
Build a Succession Plan: Identify and train a successor.
Enhance Operational Efficiency: Implement systems and processes that ensure smooth operations.
Strengthen Personal Brand: Maintain a strong reputation in your industry.

By having these clear objectives, you can work backward to develop actionable plans that move you toward your end goal.

 

 

Beginning with the end in mind is not just about planning for an exit; it’s about bringing clarity, purpose, and accountability to everything you do. By knowing your vision, evaluating your progress from an external perspective, understanding the rules, defining your success, and setting a timeline, you can navigate your career or business journey with greater clarity. Clarity that delivers better outcomes for you.

 

Remember, the journey is as important as the destination. Enjoy the process, stay adaptable, and keep your ultimate goals in sight. This will not only help you achieve your desired outcomes but also ensure that you make the most of your professional and personal life.

Contact Phoebe

Phoebe is available for interviews, guest appearances, article commentary, and talks on a range of topics relating to property, mortgage broking, and personal finance (particularly for women!).