Meet future you

15th June 2022

In an experiment at UCLA, researchers put pictures of their subjects through age-progression software, making them appear elderly.

They showed half the subjects pictures of their older, more wrinkly, saggy selves. Then they gave everyone in the experiment a chance to put aside some money for their pension.

Without exception, those who had seen the pictures of their older selves set aside more money than those who had not.

Why?

According to Hal Hershfield, who led the 2011 study, people normally make decisions that benefit themselves rather than strangers.

But your older self *feels* like a stranger, because it’s so hard to picture yourself in 30 or 40 years’ time. There is an emotional disconnect.

This explains why people can make bad choices for their future selves, like following an unhealthy diet or failing to save.

And to me, it also explains an important business question...

Why do so many business owners fail to plan the future of their business?

As I mentioned last week, it’s much easier to build a business that you love when you have a clear plan for what you want it to look like in a decade or two, when it’s structured and functioning in exactly the way you want.

Similarly, it’s much easier to retire and leave a thriving, profitable business when you’ve had a clear succession plan which has been implemented long-term. Whatever your plan - appoint a successor or sell the business - it will inevitably take several years to get this all organised.

The example I gave of an organisation doing both things well may have surprised you...

The Royal family has planned out exactly what’s going to happen in the years following Queen Elizabeth’s death in meticulous detail. We know the heirs, and the next-in-line, Charles, already has detailed plans for what he wants to achieve in office.

I think the reason he’s able to do this is clear...

...The press and everyone around him talk frequently about what might happen during his reign. There have been plays which imagine this future - like the Tony-nominated King Charles III. And there are pictures knocking around which portray Charles’ coronation.

In short, Charles’ time as monarch probably feels very real to him already. It’s not theoretical; It’s likely he can picture all the key moments. There is no emotional disconnect between himself as Prince of Wales and as King.

By contrast, you might find it hard to really imagine yourself as a retiree or as the head of a company you consider “done”. It may feel like years away... Whatever vague image you have in your head probably doesn’t really feel like “you”.

The problem is, planning is essential! Just like you need to save for retirement today to live well in your old age, you need to build your business *right now* in a way that makes your long-term vision possible.

Business owners who develop their companies without a clear sense of where they’re heading usually end up veering off in all kinds of unexpected directions. That’s not necessarily terrible, but it’s often not what you’d ideally want either.

That’s why, when we work with company owners to maximise their profit and their growth, we spend a lot of time really digging into the kind of business you’d ideally like to run.

And sometimes we even do this as a staned-alone session, called Just One Day - you can find out more about this business planning intensive day by clicking here

We don’t just talk about it in general terms. We ask you to pinpoint exactly what you want your business to look like a few years down the line - its size, location, who you’re employing, the structure, your own role, what your typical day might look like, what kinds of customers you’re serving, how much profit you’re generating, what you find fulfilling...

...And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This in-depth exercise makes your future business real to you. Perhaps for the first time, you’ll really be able to visualise what it will be like at the helm of your company when it’s “done”...

...and that will make it easier to create.

NOTE - Of course we don’t just spend all day imaging together! We also put together concrete plans to bring about your vision!

Similarly, we help you imagine what’s going to happen to your business once you retire - so the next stage of your company can feel real to you, too, and so that we can start creating a workable succession plan.

All of this is part-and-parcel of good financial management...

...because the most profitable, financially successful companies don’t happen by accident!

They’re the result of outstanding planning, not just looking 3-6 months ahead (like most companies do) but looking 10 years ahead - and even further.

If that’s the kind of approach you’d like to take to your business finances and growth, please get in touch with me today.

Simply email or call me on 01279 647 447 for a no-obligation chat.

Warmly,

Garry

PS. Connected but weird bit of trivia...

I recently heard a professor on a podcast ask why the Tudors have become larger-than-life in our collective imaginations, compared to all the equally fascinating people who came before them.

Her answer was that the Tudors are the first period where we have really detailed, accurate depictions of the people involved, drawn in real time. Because we can visualise them so clearly, they become more real to us...

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