If there’s one thing I know a lot of stuff about, it business and money. My entire education and work-life have revolved around these areas so I’ve lived and breathed this for some time. What’s one thing I keep seeing time and again? How businesses are pretty much living, breathing organisms that face the same bloody problems we all face in our day-to-day lives. The businesses that succeed are usually the ones that have a vision and all of their decisions revolve around reaching it. Those that fail are usually the ones that blindly walk into the abyss, cross their fingers and hope for the best. Much like most of society when it comes to managing their own money, I might add.
Since businesses are a lot like humans, I’ve decided to start a series titled “Business Life”. It’s going to run through core business/financial concepts that can apply to both business and financial independence. I honestly think if more people took the time to run their life like they did a successful business, they would probably find themselves in much better shape financially.
So what makes a successful business? First of all, they have a long-term vision. A vision is an ultimate goal that the business wants to achieve. Go to pretty much any successful company’s corporate website and look for their mission and vision statement. It’ll be buried deep somewhere in amongst corporate jargon, but I assure you, it will be there. For those too lazy to bother, here are a few visions of some major corporations:
- Google – To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful
- Toyota – To be the most successful and respected car company in America
- Amazon – To be the earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online
- Heinz – To be the world’s premier food company, offering nutritious, superior tasting foods to people everywhere
You get the drift. They have a big goal, and everything they do in their entire company is aligned to reaching that goal. If they fail to align every decision they make with that goal, they will more than likely fail to meet it.
How Does This Relate To Me?!
So what’s this got to do with this blog about financial freedom? Well, you need a bloody vision! Unfortunately, most people are walking around making day-to-day decisions without ever planning or even thinking about what their life could be like in 10+ years. If they’re lucky, they might have a vague idea as to what they want their life to be like, without actually putting the steps into place in order to get there. It may seem great at the time, spending all this money on crap that makes you momentarily happy, yet really brings no long-term value to your life, but way down the road you are going to look back and wonder where the hell all your hard-earned dough has gone, and yearn for the opportunity to use it more wisely. If you’re lucky, you might think a few years ahead to how you want to buy a nice car or a house. This is much better than those that don’t even think of that, but it’s still too short-sighted to really get ahead.
Businesses that typically succeed are those that think of the big picture and create long-lasting wealth. If a business only looked one year, or even five years ahead, they’d be making a grave mistake that will undoubtedly reduce their future profitability and thus shareholder wealth. They probably wouldn’t be able to keep up with their competitors who did plan well in advance, and they will eventually grind to a halt.
So ask yourself, what do you ultimately want to achieve in your life? This could be anything, but it needs to be specific enough so that your daily decisions can ultimately lead to reaching the vision. Any vision you set should be SMART. If you don’t know what the SMART acronym stands for, go and google it.
Your vision will likely depend on where you are currently positioned in life based on the opening post of this blog. It could be anything, from retiring early to paying off all your debt. Whatever it is, this is what you’ve decided is your number one priority in life and everything you do should align with this goal.
A lot of people might put of working towards an ultimate vision because they’re not willing to make the necessary sacrifices along the way in order to reach it. This is where values come into play.
You Can Still Give In To Some Desires
On top of a vision and mission, most companies also have a set of non-negotiable values they believe in whilst pursuing their vision. Usually, they like to use a load of wholesome words like integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, social responsibility and so on. A cynic would probably say it’s all a bunch of PR bullshit to get more customers to buy their products, and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong with that notion. However, if a company claims to have a set of values yet is found to be acting in a way that goes against those core beliefs, they’re pretty screwed as society doesn’t take too well to lying like that, and shun them.
From a personal financial freedom perspective, I’d consider your values to be your non-negotiable desires in life that without, you’d be miserable. Think of it like a cheat sheet that most likely detracts from your vision, but hopefully not so much that your vision becomes unattainable. Some examples could be to have 2 children, to travel the world, to own a mansion. These don’t really align too well with saving as much money as you can, do they?
The key is to find a nice balance between your vision and what you value most. You want a vision that is pretty ambitious to achieve and you want values that maintain your sanity along the way, but don’t impede on your vision too much.
Here is what my vision and values are:
Vision: To be financially free by 40
- Travel the world
- Experience nature
- Have a loving relationship with my wife
- Eat healthy food
- Give my dog a happy and healthy life
Some of your values might detract from your vision a lot (I’m glaring at you, babies!) and others might not impede whatsoever (experiencing nature is pretty cheap). Just know, the more non-negotiable “must-haves” you want in your life, the less likely you are to reach your ultimate goal, or at the very least, the longer it will take. Since this blog is going to largely revolve around financial freedom, any and every expense detracts from the goal so if it isn’t absolutely adding value to your life, you need to seriously consider your priorities. This isn’t a time to be listing all the consumer crap you think you need like a Ford F150 or the latest iPhone, in fact, the less you have on this list, the better.
I should note, your vision and values aren’t static so don’t get all panicked about thinking about every little thing you can’t live without. In fact, the more you go down this road to freedom, the more you will probably want to remove stuff from the list as you realize it’s not adding any happiness whatsoever.
“What if I’ve already reached my ultimate vision?”
Then think of a bloody new one! Businesses don’t say “well crap, we reached our goal, I guess it’s time to put our feet up and bask in our unrivalled glory.” Life is never-ending race, join in or get left in the dust!