Me, Myself & I, Inc. STEP 2: Your Personal Business Plan (aka Strategic Career Design).
Recapping STEP 1, the evolving nature of work and jobs anticipates fewer and non-permanent full-time positions, increasing freelancing, consulting work and solopreneurs, and potentially more entrepreneurship. Therefore, professionals need to shift their emphasis to generating (stable) income versus focusing on long-term, fixed, full-time employment.
With many new career and work options, and no defined linear, continuous and compounding track to jump on anymore, you need to create a map or blueprint to craft your own career plan and drive your forward and upward progress. Developing a Personal Business Plan is a way, first to create a vision and or mission for your life (without necessarily being able to identify it in any detail right away), as well as thoughtfully to plot revenue-generating advancement in phased steps and move toward your goal(s).
This is NOT a self-involved, navel-gazing approach to ‘me-focused’ life development (for Millennials or anyone else!). This is a concept, a methodology, a tool for any individual to leverage to architect and plan the forward progress of his/her life.
A typical business plan follows a formula: It starts with an overview of the marketplace; describes the mission and core proposition of the service(s) or product(s); explains the competitive landscape and the specific strategic advantage that will enable the success of the venture; expresses the financial potential of the business; and identifies the resources necessary to realize the business plan. Voila!
This can then convert into an ongoing (budget-type) plan, which can adapt to market changes and recognize potential pivots (very possible in the early years).
How could this apply to your career and life?
It helps you create a framework to identify the elements at play that you can control and others you can’t. You can understand inputs, assess options (that are relevant to you), explore scenarios and guide your choices to enable you to be and do your best. The emphasis is on ongoing revenues, from different, even multiple, sources, and helps the transition to new ways of thinking about work and income. You can be better prepared to achieve whatever it is that you define as success over the course of your life and multiple careers.
Overall, it is the line by line determination of each of the relevant inputs and specifics needed to develop the business plan, and the iterative process to refine it initially, and over time, that is the great value of the process. In addition, you should be able to identify potential hindrances and the most influential factors that can have the biggest impact on making your career(s) successful, or not.
Your Personal Business Plan — The Building Blocks:
• Marketplace — Define your world and (desired or actual) work environment and which sector(s)/area(s) you want to or do work in. What are their characteristics — including growth prospects and need for your services? Consider how each might enable you to maximize your potential.
• Mission — Describe what you want to achieve over the next phase(s) of your life, and it will give you some direction. Choose a multi-year period to allow for an appropriate long-term strategy and commitment. Examples include creating or solving something or achieving a certain level of expertise or responsibility. For now, you may only have initial ideas to test and confirm, hone or discard.
• Core Proposition — Identify and consider your key strengths and or passion(s). Consider how and where you can best develop and apply them, and establish relevant long-term multi-career objectives leveraging them (to the extent possible, right now).
• Competitive Landscape — Research who else is providing the same types of services and how good they are relative to you. Work out how to improve your hiring probability — such as additional expertise, experiences or relationships.
• Strategic Advantage — Articulate the key ‘service(s)’ you want to enhance or expand to maximize what you want to focus on now and next, considering your emphasis on specific skills and positioning with respect to your competition.
• Resources — List any experiences, skills and talents you need for the current/next career phase(s) to give you the highest possible chance of success. Discover any you are missing or that need a boost, then plot how and when to attain them. Also, relationships and networking are critical resources for success (your internal and external teams).
• Action Plan — Map out the first phase to make it happen.
Just with any business plan and associated financials (the latter here being your earning power and results), you could tell a great story and make a financial model look almost however you want it. That said, there are always a couple of key factors that you could tweak to make a big difference to the projected results (good and bad). These often include aspects of pricing and or cost structure. Your ‘pricing’ is how much you are/feel able to charge for (or ‘realize the value of’) your services — a combination of skill, positioning and confidence. Your ‘cost structure’ includes your cost of living and other expenses. If these are high, they could impact your ability to take a lateral move to gain critical experience; pay for a new certification course; or take a mental/physical sabbatical.
In the end, for a typical business, its overall success is determined by its Unique Value Proposition (USP). What’s yours? It is the ‘why’ when people hire YOU, not anyone else, and pay whatever you (reasonably) propose. It is determined by your specific combination of skills and experience and your ability to communicate that value to people you have targeted who really want them. Your chances of success will increase the better you define, develop and refine your USP. This takes time, and it’s an empowering part of the ongoing process. Consider, hone and evolve yours at each stage of each career.
It’s a VERY different career and work world these days. Rather than being distracted or destabilized by the changes, leverage this new approach to help you focus on achieving progress and building a successful and full life for yourself. Onwards and Upwards.
Sophie Wade is a Workforce Innovation Specialist and Founder of Flexcel Network. She writes and speaks regularly about Future of Work issues — including workplace flexibility, employee engagement, new career experience management and intergenerational communication. Her forthcoming book, Embracing Progress, will be coming out early in 2017. Sophie is also President of the NYC chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on April 1, 2016.