When is the best time to make a financial plan?
I do like a good proverb. The best are initially counter intuitive, and yet reveal their wisdom after a few moments consideration.
Take this nugget, for example:
Always do your marketing when you are busy.
That seems daft on first reading. I can’t do my marketing when I’m busy, because I’m busy! And yet the point it makes is valid. If you don’t do you marketing when you are busy, when that work tails off, you’ll have no more work coming in. Many small businesses go from busy periods working long hours, to quiet periods where they suddenly join all the networking groups they haven’t already been thrown out of (or was that just me…).
Another reason why this proverb makes sense is because marketing is not sales, yet many confuse the two. Marketing means long term thinking. Branding, aligning the purpose of the business with the message that customers receive. Content marketing, sharing ideas with the world to demonstrate your expertise. These things take time to build up, and mustn’t be forgotten when one is busy.
Here’s another favourite proverb of mine:
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
You may notice there is a theme starting to emerge. Thinking ahead. Lifting your head from the daily activities and looking a bit into the future. Planning.
Over the years we’ve seen a lot of people who have been too busy to plan, to take time out and consider all options open to them in the future. They put all energies on the only option they are able to influence, the business (and often the kids as well, a combination which is enough to soak up anyone’s energies!). Planning isn’t needed, they feel, because the future is clear – even if that vision doesn’t extend very far into the future.
Then one day a dramatic event happens, and they are forced to make a significant decision. The one thing they want is more options. But they haven’t done the planning and so don’t know what options are available.
So let us try and merge these two sayings into a new proverb of our own. How about this:
The best time to make a financial plan is when you don’t see the need for it.
A financial plan will help you make decisions, whether it is for your business or for you personally. Don’t wait until you need one to create it – that isn’t planning, that’s panicking!