As we always say, plan your life, then plan your business...
Some of the most successful and happy people we know are entrepreneurs who created a business that’s in perfect synchronicity with what they want out of life. If you do what you love, you’ll work harder, better and more happily.
In this step we will focus on:
- Elements of your Life Plan
- Using your Life Plan
Elements of your Life Plan:
Your Current Status
Think carefully and honestly about where you are now in your life. Consider work, recreation, relationships, finances and anything else that’s important to you. And then jot down some simple, succinct bullet points in each of these categories:
- Quality rating of your life on a scale of 1 through 100, with 100 being the best possible life
- Realities of your life, including responsibilities, funds available to start a business, expenses
- Things that make you happy
- Things that make you unhappy
Your Ideal Life
This is a snapshot of your “ideal” life, in a very brief, bulleted list. And remember, the sky’s the limit, so don’t be afraid of being bold or maybe even a little grandiose. Factor in things like family time, hobbies, charity work, early retirement – anything that gets you really excited.
Your Loves: What You Really Like Doing
Think about the types of things that you love to do, whether at work, at home, or at your local soup kitchen. List these things out briefly. And don't worry if some themes are starting to repeat in each section, that just means you have some really focused ideas about what you want in life!
Your Skills & Capabilities: What You Do Well
List the abilities, experience and strengths you can build on to attain that ideal life.
Bear in mind that your skills need not be strictly from your professional life – list skills developed in your personal life as well. It may be a combination of skills that leads you to a startup that’s best suited to fit your needs.
Your Track Record: What You Have Experience Doing
List those accomplishments in your professional and personal life of which you're most proud. Pay particular attention to successes you've had that would be helpful in starting a business and managing it successfully.
Your Ideal Work Style
Whether full-time or part-time, at-home or on the road, working behind the scenes or interacting with lots of people — understand what your work style priorities are so you can define the best kind of business for you.
Another way to look at this is, what level of risk do you want to take? You may want a relatively low-pressure first-go at entrepreneurship.
This is your personal mission, your values and what drives you forward, all wrapped up into a one-page (maximum) statement. To write this, you should draw on everything you’ve already discovered about yourself in steps 1 through 6, and bring it all together into a clear statement of your principles and priorities.
Our example manifesto
Work as Freedom: We think work is about pursuing our dreams, not for the benefit of some nameless, faceless company, but for ourselves. We believe that owning our own business leads to the liberties and freedoms that the forefathers of our country envisioned for us. We’re free to choose the kind of business we conduct. We’re free to choose the way we spend our time. We’re free to choose the people with whom we work. We’re free to set our priorities.
Work as Family: We’ve tried to create a workplace environment where employees feel like they’re actually members of a greater family. There’s a sense of common purpose, mutual respect, and deep trust. Everyone should feel important and as though they’re a meaningful member of the collective effort. It’s an environment that empowers people to share in the hard work—and in the benefits.
Work as Fulfillment: We’ve made it a priority to ensure that our work gives us a sense of satisfaction. When we wake up in the morning, we can’t wait to get on the phone, get online, and get our team in gear. The work we do is truly the work we love. For us there’s nothing that turns us on more than facing a challenge and transforming it into an opportunity. There’s nothing more thrilling than seeing a customer use our product. There’s nothing more gratifying than helping someone else turn a dream into a real business. And over time, we’ve found that our fulfillment comes as much from the process of trying to achieve our goals as it does from actually achieving them.
Key Moves to Get You Where You Want to Go
These are simple strategic action items you must develop in order to transform your Life Plan from a self-assessment into an action plan. At this point in life planning, you know where you want to go, what skills you already have, as well as what type of work suits you best. Draw from that information a list of moves you’ll need to make to achieve your ideal life.
Using your Life Plan
It’s very important to print your Life Plan and keep it in plain view. You’ll find that its presence—even in your peripheral vision—will constantly remind you of what you want, what’s important, and what to do next.
Ideally, you should also revisit your Life Plan periodically to measure your success and to make adjustments and additions where appropriate. It’s okay if things change over time—life is a fluid and dynamic thing and your Life Plan should be, too!
Use your Life Plan to provide context for strategic decisions you make—including what niche you choose to operate in, what business model you’ll use, whether you’ll have lots of employees or a home-based, one person operation.
Most importantly, your Life Plan will position you to do what you LOVE and that always brings out the best in an entrepreneur..