Financial success doesn’t happen by accident; it’s the result of intentional, persistent action towards a specific goal. Sometimes our goals are so big that it can be difficult to figure out where to start. That’s why I love planning so much, it provides a framework for us to start working towards the success that we’re looking for. Whether we’re building a business or creating a life, the process of planning for financial success is the same. Here’s how it works.
Step1: Define your purpose
The starting place of any plan – financial plan, business plan, investment plan, life plan – is the why.
Successful businesses begin with a clear vision and mission statement that articulate their reason for existence and what they hope to accomplish. When I decided to start my business, my purpose was to make financial advice more accessible and fun, while making a living that would be (at least) the equivalent of what I was being paid in my 9-5.
As an individual looking for financial success, you must also understand your purpose.
- Why do you want financial success in the first place?
- What’s most important to you?
- What specific goals will you set to start moving in the right direction?
Don’t rush through this step. These are big questions, the answers will serve as the foundation for your plan and motivation to keep going when the going gets rough. If you need some guidance, check out this mission statement builder to help you get started.
Step2: Create positive cash flow
Cash flow refers to the movement of money in your business and life – what’s coming in (income) and what’s going out (expenses). Positive cash flow simply means that you earn more than you spend. Creating positive cash flow requires that you manage both income and expenses, and you’ll need to think about them in slightly different ways.
When it comes to expenses, the challenge is control. It’s critical to know where you want your money to go and how much should be going there. (Hint: your money should be flowing towards your goals from Step 1!) When you’re first starting out, it’s very likely that your cash resources will be scarce so you must be intentional about spending your money on the things that are most important to achieving your goals. Minimize or eliminate spending on anything less important.
The money I spend creating this website, for example, moves me closer to my goal of making financial advice more accessible. As much as I’d love to redecorate my home office, I try to minimize the amount I spend on pretty office supplies since that’s not a priority right now.
When it comes to income, the challenge is growth. In order to grow our income, we need to understand where it comes from, what drives it and how can we get more of it. In business, drivers for growth could be number of clients or volume of product sales; as an employee, growth is achieved through taking on more responsibility and being promoted.
To start planning for positive cash flow, download my Starter Financial Plan workbook HERE!
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If you’re reading this blog and using it as a tool to help you start a successful financial plan, crossing these two items off your list is huge. Great work. Personally, I think step one and two are enough for today!
Download the workbook, spend some time planning and feel excited about the start you have made. Then check out steps three and four in part two of this blog next week.
Lisa Zamparo is a financial strategist and lifestyle optimist, as well as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), business coach and personal finance expert in Toronto who helps people make intentional decisions with their money. As a one-on- one coach, her personalized approach to financial planning helps her clients achieve their goals by aligning their spending with their priorities. As an inspirational educator, Lisa leads workshops that infuse mindfulness principles with financial concepts delivered in a fun and approachable style.