3rd Act Strategy Tips from Business Planners
By Pat McHenry Sullivan, Visionary Resources, Oakland, CA
As you dream about your 3rd Act, do you imagine starting a new business or initiating a non-profit venture? Perhaps your 2nd Act focused on other career paths and family demands has not prepared you for “business planning” But perhaps you have no desire for a new business or non-profit venture. Yet, whatever your dream — great planning can turn vague or unworkable ideas into clear, successful ones.
Bankers and non-profit funders require business plans as an act of due diligence, or the careful attention they owe their stockholders or donors. Thus, before granting any money, they want to know the details of your plans.
The questions they ask can be helpful, to plan any venture you are dreaming about.
1. Have you done enough research to prove that the idea is likely to be successful?
2. Have you demonstrated your skills, commitment and resourcefulness to stay focused and turn the ideas into action?
For you, due diligence can turn into a deeper act of loving attention as you conduct your research:
1. How can my idea represent the best information and inspiration of my heart, soul and brain?
2. What allies and mentors can help me bring my idea into thriving fruition?
3. How could I implement my idea in a way that allows for maximum efficiency and satisfaction to me and others?
4. How would my idea impact those I love? (E.g., can I really follow my dream of doing workshops to build adolescent self-esteem and prevent teenage pregnancy throughout the country and still have a rich life with my own family?)
5. Does this idea so resonate with my purpose and passion that I am fully willing to follow it? If not, what touchstones in this idea can be turned into an idea that better fits me? (E.g., is there another way to support other teens and spend more time with my own teens? Could others throughout the country join in the purposeful fun?)
Basically, the business planning process can force you to get clear and focused on reality. Here are some basic business plan questions, adapted to the idea for your 3rd Act:
Products and services: What exactly do I want to create? What details and benefits emerge if I dare to dream my idea into a juicy, full-blown vision?
Marketing and selling: Who wants what I feel called to offer? Why? How can I get out my message in a crowded marketplace? How can I engage in a respectful dialogue that leads to just the right happy customers or nonprofit clients?
Management: What abilities and attitudes do I need to fulfill my dream? Who can help me? How can I best lead myself and others effectively?
Operations: How can everything necessary get done well and everyone who helps me build my dream have plenty of time left for a life? How can I schedule in time for reflection and other ways to generate wisdom.
Finance: What will it cost to build this dream? How can every aspect of the financial and other operations be handled with deep integrity?
A common fear is that planning will take all the joy out of your venture or somehow jinx your creativity and resourcefulness. Reality: Planning for your 3rdAct can be like planning a great vacation. It always helps when you know where you’re going, you have enough money for what matters most to you, and you can spend most of your time enjoying your adventure.
Want to know more? The Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov) offers free or very inexpensive business planning classes in many cities. SCORE (ww.score.org) offers free mentoring from retired business executives.
Pat McHenry Sullivan, Visionary Resources, specializes in helping focus visions and develop bankable business plans from the heart and soul. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 510-530-0284. See www.visionary-resources.com and blog at www.spiritworkandmoney.com.