Forget Business – Do YOU Need a Business Plan?

I was recently introduced to the concept of creating a business plan for start-up businesses, as well as for revitalizing and changing the course of existing businesses. I am currently working on a business plan related to my professional work.

Going through some of the required prompts to complete the exercise got me thinking – why don’t people apply this more frequently to their own lives if it works so well for business?

I broke apart the individual components of a simple business plan and considered how we can gain a useful advantage in our lives by following the same principles, prompts, and planning  methods.

Here are the 10 most basic features of a “personal business plan”:

  1. Company Summary – Just as a company needs to define their purpose for existing, we must also define what we expect to get out of our life. This is often known as a “personal mission statement,” or a set of long-term life goals. Write yours today.
  2. Your Products or Services – In other words, what the company sells. While personally, we may not sell anything, we do sell ourselves. We do it during job interviews. But we also continue to do it each and every day –¬†doing a good job and demonstrating it, in return for continued employment. What do we offer, and how can we ensure that what we offer is the best it can be?
  3. Your Market – Our market, therefore, consists of our current employer and any other potential employers or consumers of our knowledge, skills, and ability to create or produce. What is your marketing plan? In other words, how do you plan to show the best of what you’re about to current or potential employers?
  4. Sales Forecast – Companies sell products, while we typically “sell” (or exchange) our time in return for compensation. What is your compensation forecast? What kind of money do you expect to be bringing in 5, 10, 30 years from now? Companies set these kinds of goal – why should you settle for anything less?
  5. Competitive Advantage – Any good company will identify and capitalize on what makes them unique in the market. It’s the essence of a capitalistic system, in which we “vote” with our money. You need to identify what makes you special as well. Strengthening those qualities, and constantly developing new unique advantages will help you with selling yourself.
  6. Important Milestones – Setting specific deadlines is important in business, so that you can check in and make sure things are progressing on track. What are your life’s deadlines for important goals?
  7. Management Team – Every company has a management team, a set of people who perform specific tasks essential to the operations of the company. In your own home, are responsibilities clearly defined between spouses and kids? Does everyone know what they need to do to keep the ship running smoothly? Neglecting any one area can often be compensated for, but not indefinitely!
  8. Financial Plan – What is your family’s financial plan? Have you talked about and set goals for how you want to accomplish items from #1? How does your income forecast affect what you’ll be able to achieve? What is your overall approach to lifetime financial management?
  9. Cash Flow Plan – Those of us who are conscious of our cash flow usually monitor it in terms of monthly periods. But you need to think in broader terms – where do you want your money to go this year? How about this decade? Thinking in these terms gets you out of a management mindset and into a goal-setting and priority-defining mindset.
  10. Implementation Plan – Companies translate their goals into action plans that allow them to immediately take the first step toward success. Review your own “business plan” and determine what you can do immediately to set things on the right track.

Isn’t it amazing how the principles of business translate into our lives? And how many of us can honestly say that we’ve gone through the majority of these questions before, and considered each one with deliberate detail?

Take time this month to draft your own “Personal” business plan and reap the benefits for the rest of your life. Feel free to leave a comment here about your experience.