5 year planning

Old skills revisited

It felt really good to run a jigsaw for a while today. I’ve been passing along information gleaned from years of building wacky buildings at Renaissance Faires, and I still do a bit of design, but I hadn’t done much actual production in years. It was good. I had some thinking to do for a couple of assignments in Marie Forleo’s B-School, and repetitive physical work is so good for the thinking process. It was a beautiful and warm spring day, and I was able to get a little vitamin D while I was out there working in the sunshine.

These days, Phil and I only have time to do construction and design work on our own buildings. We planned it that way. Years ago, when we realized that construction was over 80% of our income, we set to change that, and started buying service businesses at festivals, sometimes trading our labor instead of dollars. I say we set 5 year plans, but I find that a 5 year plan never takes that long in reality. But 5 years is an easy thing for me to wrap my brain around.

Here are things to know about how I do 5 year planning for business improvements:

  1. I rarely look for *More* as part of my plan, because I live with complete confidence that I will always have “Enough”. I may look to replace one thing with another, but the 5 year shifts are always more about quality of life than about money.
  2. I start at analyzing what brings me the most stress, and set an intention to lessen that.  (This is possibly the biggest element of the process.)
  3. I’m totally ok with Phil having a different plan to reduce the same stress. Sometimes we agree on method, sometimes we do not; but I am convinced that our agreement of intention to alter that stressor has huge impact in making it happen.
  4. I don’t write it down. I know that runs counter to so much of what we are told about goal-setting, but these changes are given 5-year windows specifically because they are about life shifts rather than stair-steps to another place. Not writing down steps for these has allowed space in which magic happens, and we often find ourselves looking back from a place we hadn’t even imagined, piecing together what steps we took to get here.
  5. This has only failed me when I got incredibly specific about “the big step that was going to fix XYZ”. Little steps in a general direction often lead me to fascinating places I have not imagined. Setting plans around a “When X, then Y” format don’t seem to pay out. I am back to the drawing board, but not picking up the pencil this time.  This time I’m saying “I have some stress around ____. I’m looking for ways to either replace ____ in my financial portfolio, hire middle management so that I don’t have to manage ____ myself, or whatever comes up that lets me simply let go of it. Maybe I’ll miraculously stop feeling stress about the thing. It’s possible!
  6. We maintain forward momentum. We have been and always will love to work. So we keep working, including working at those elements of our lives around which we have stress. We are not wishfully thinking that the intention is set and therefore we don’t have to continue working forward. A goal without action is a wish. There is something about forward momentum that pulls magic in behind you … allowing it to then help propel you forward.

 

Gizzies, ready for sanding and painting. They are part of the facelift plan for my bakery at the Texas Renaissance Festival.

So that very non-scientific system is my answer when other entrepreneurs ask me how I grew my business from a 2 person construction and design firm to our multiple-holdings and 40 person staff. I don’t know the “How”, and the system only fails if I try to micro-manage it. We work forward from the “Why”, keep working, and the pieces fall into place.

About Rhonni

My story … an eccentric’s business strategy.

I’ve been self-employed most of my adult life, dissatisfied with the idea of a single career-track. I have managed to build multiple businesses within the umbrella industry of outdoor themed entertainment. Renaissance Festivals, street shows, music festivals … each have different flavors, but the business needs are very similar. I am continually surrounded with people who have invented themselves and their jobs over and over again. In my world … *this* is normal.

Tegan’s photo of me from 2010

While we are used to making up our life-plan as we go along, folks in my industry are not really different from folks who do a 9 to 5. The main difference between our world and the world of the 9 to 5-er is rarely (if ever) do you hear anyone say they don’t love whatever it is they are doing for a living. Conversations about Work-Life Balance don’t happen at our tables, because those conversations are for people who don’t like their work.

This blog is a place where, with the help of some talented friends and associates, I’ll share some of the eccentric business strategies, and professional know-how that has helped so many of us craft interesting lives. You’ll also find Diversions and Home-Life sections to the blog, because our lives *are* beyond the ordinary, and the stories are interesting and sometimes thought-provoking. Many of us are Multipotentialites, or Renaissance Souls, and so our strengths and our curiosities cover a wide range of subjects. (There’s a reason that category is “Diversions”.)

Back to the bio-bit … I currently reside in 4 places every year. I’ve travelled for over 2 decades “on circuit”, my roles including Carpenter’s Helper, Human Resources Manager, Painter, Designer, Food Booth Manager, Building Coordinator, Hairbraider, General Factotum, Brainstorm Queen, and Boss Lady. None of these jobs were clearly defined until I sculpted them to fit my skills. Skills were honed along the process. As I learned more about building, I moved from being a carpenter’s helper, to being the person that could be counted on to make the trip to the hardware store, and return with what was needed to keep the job going during our tight-deadlines while opening shows. When I decided our buildings were not pretty enough (I wanted to have so many requests for our work, we’d be turning some of them down.) I learned to build shutters, window-boxes, and decorative trim … so that more people were asking for our design and building services.

That was over a decade ago. Now, Mr. Rocks and I make most of our yearly income in the food business. We make enough there that we only work half of the year, and I’m looking at what to do with the rest of my time. I don’t like being idle. I like interacting with people. I like making connections, whether I am connecting a person with the perfect meal, connecting people who may be of use or interest to each other, or connecting people with ideas.

 
Let’s see where this goes.