The entrepreneur freedom lifestyle comes with promises of forging your own path, making your own decisions, and living on your own terms. You choose your work; you perform your work and then inevitably your business becomes an extension of yourself. This is magnificent. No clocking in or out, no boss over our shoulders, we get to make the decisions and do business our way. Magnificent. And if you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner let’s face it, it can be a bit chaotic. 

Every small business owner reaches that state of being run by their business rather than the other way round. You followed the plan along the way your personal life got traded in for business success and you find yourself thinking ‘how did I get here?’ Well, I can tell you how.

Most entrepreneurs will have a business plan, whether vague or defined, yet how many people do this with their lives? People often put more thought into planning a two-week vacation than their lives, but work-life balance comes from a work-life plan. Business founders with a life plan and business plan are the ones living the elusive freedom lifestyle, this doesn’t happen by accident, but by design. These informed planners start with the end in mind. 

The two most important numbers in your business-life plan are your set points for time and money freedom. That is; (1) your annual desired income, and (2) the number of hours generating that income. Keeping in mind that the two are not necessarily in direct correlation. Time in does not necessarily mean money out. Time and money can be separated by creating value. Making the decision to focus on time vs. money will have huge implications for designing your business model, your products, services, and systems. 

Burnout is often written into the early business plans through low margins, not recognizing capacity, and optimistic thinking. We get so excited thinking about any clients that we do not consider getting all the clients. Build your business with success in mind, and success explicitly measured by a content lifestyle. 

Take the following business ideas for example: if your mission is to share coffee with the world, you may consider opening a cafe or alternatively setting a coffee distribution business. The former has high time demands, low production costs, and margins. The other requires a different set of mostly administrative tasks, resources and has unlimited earning potential. One is highly social, the other could be quite solitary. Which one would you choose? There is no right or wrong answer, just personal preference. There’s no judgment to loving your work or not loving your work, but it is important to recognize that your time is the most precious resource. Identify your values, plan wisely and implement unapologetically. 

Your business plan is your life plan. Whether you plan to be rich or not, money gives you freedom. You decide in advance what time and income freedom is acceptable to you. Design your business around these two metrics and they can support each other. You can only get one life, plan what role, importance, and impact your work has in it.