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Fifteen years ago I joined the investment management world.  Very quickly I started to develop a specialty working with private business owners.  Shortly after starting my private business specialty I started to notice a pattern:

Difficult decisions and issues that owners didn’t have answers for always would be answered or solved in five years (or from their point of view it would).

It was never two years, seven years, or even ten years.  It was always five years.  I’m not sure why this is true, but it seems to be so.

As a result I coined a term – perma-five.  The term stuck and those I’ve explained it to laugh and adopt the term themselves. 

Perma-five means that if I asked you a question and you answered five years from now you would likely still say five years if I asked the same question 3, 5 or even 10 years later.  That is of course if you still didn’t know what the answer to the question was.

I find this is especially true when I ask business owners when they want to leave their business.  If you are over fifty years old your answer might be five years from now.  When I hear that answer I always am curious whether it’s really five years or I’ve spotted a new case of perma-five.

Perma-five tends to pop up when I ask some of the following questions:

  • When talking with someone over fifty years old, when are you going to leave your business?
  • How long will it take before you’ve accumulated enough assets to retire?
  • How long will it take you to find a manager who can take over for you?
  • How long will it take before you can turn your business around?

Perma-five is a sign of something you’ve thought about but don’t have an answer to.   You might believe that if you continue moving forward whatever needs to happen will magically happen.

Magic solutions just don’t happen very often.  If I’m speaking with you and we get into a perma-five conversation it means we don’t have a good solution for a problem or opportunity we’re facing. 

A good way to get out of perma-five is to start evaluating what you’re trying to accomplish.  If you decide to use a coaching process you might get a better result.  Your coaching process should start with answer the following question:

What is it you want to do, why is this important, re-evaluate what you want to do and then put an action plan in place.

You’ll want to make sure your coach holds you accountable for taking the steps in your action plan.  I believe a coach is almost always necessary if you really want to solve a perma-five problem.

I know that in my own life having a coach has helped me stay focused on what I want to do.  If I find that I really don’t want to stay focused it’s a sign I need to change what I’m trying to accomplish.  This is a sign that I might be in perma-five situation myself.

What about you, do you find there are times you just get stuck and your outcome seems to always live five years away?  If so, you might want to get someone to help you with this problem.  Using outside help might just help you start moving to a real solution.

One of the items that causes perma-five is knowing whether you can afford to leave your business.  We’ve written a special report that allows you to figure out whether this might be a problem for you.  We call this analysis the 4 Boxes of Financial Independence.  To get this report, click on the button below.

Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated.

This article is published for residents of the United States only.  Registered Representatives and Investment Adviser Representatives of NFP Securities, Inc. may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered.  Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed.  Not all of the products and services referenced on this site are available in every state and through every representative or advisor listed.

Topics: business coaching, for business owners, perma-five

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