You Need a Business Plan, Even if You Don’t Have Any Business

How the business plan strategy can boost our confidence

Foto di Daniel Gonzalez su Unsplash

In the process of revising my company’s business plan last year, I was struck by its remarkable resemblance to a life plan. Recently, I read two books in which such a life plan was mentioned.

In Spare, Prince Harry wrote that when he met Duchess Meghan Markle, she said that “helping others” was part of her life plan. Last week, I read Be Useful by Former Governor Schwarzenegger. His whole book is a hymn to life planning.

You need to be able to see what you want to achieve before you do it, not as you do it. That’s the difference.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

As they both achieved great goals in their lives (being renowned actors and helping people) I decided to deepen this matter.

I found out that there are many books and online courses about life planning. Sometimes, their approach is very theoretical, and mainly focused on one’s emotional life. Some other books, on the contrary, are almost exclusively focused on financial freedom. They are both interesting, but I think that these two different approaches are missing something. Anyway, both these two visions highlight that planning is beneficial for our mindfulness.

Curiously, a classical business plan might be the best guide to composing a life plan.

I know that our lives are generally a bit more complicated than a Company, and I know that harmonizing feelings, personal life, career, and finances is not that easy. But that’s why a sort of bullet list can help to unravel this tangled mess. Every business plan, indeed, is organized step by step.

The business (plan) of life

Let’s start with the introduction, in which you state why you are writing your plan. If you understand why you need a life plan, your purpose will be clearer. Only a few need a high achievement, such as changing the world, but we all need a goal that will enrich our lives with a sense of fulfillment.

A study found that creating a life plan can help people experience a higher meaningful life, which increases a better psychological health.

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why

Mark Twain

It’s not necessary to become an astronaut to have a meaningful life; I found my realization building my family, working in my company, and finding a way to help others. Some of my friends find joy in traveling the world, while others feel proud when they take care of the environment. Every nonviolent way to depict one’s vision is honorable.

So, let’s assume that you wrote your introduction stating what you want to be: married, business-oriented, a politician, an athlete… whatever you want. Now you can go to the next chapter and describe your life and how you are thinking to engage it.

Are you going to wake up early? Are you planning to work 9-to-5? Do you want to live in a big city? Just think about how your life should be to make you feel you are achieving your goals.

A business plan now has two chapters about the market analysis and your competitors. In your life, they are more important than you might think.

You can have the most shining plan for your life, but here comes the best and the worst part of it: you can’t reach your goals alone. “You need a marketing plan”, translated into everyday life, means you need someone to support you. You’ll need teachers, mentors, and people you admire to make you see that you can reach the same goals too. You’ll even need some obstacles to make sure that’s the life you want, whatever it costs.

Don’t forget that these chapters include risk assessment and milestones. You’ll grow your confidence, once you have clear in your mind the risks your path provides, and how you can take them.

Besides, don’t forget to celebrate your milestones. They fuel your motivation.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail

Benjamin Franklin

How do you think that management and organization chapters can concern your life plan? Believe me, if you have a family, children, a house, and a job (and maybe even a pet) organization is your safety net. It’s not only a matter of preparing a plan for the future, but also the moment in which you understand how to prioritize where you can spend your time.

I remember when my son was a little child. Every week I prepared a sort of timetable, with all our tasks: his school, theater rehearsals, sports, my meetings… I remember how we laughed when we named it the family flight plan. We were quite sure that Lufthansa’s plan was much easier.

The point is that you can’t be omnipresent: if you need to attend a meeting, you might miss your children’s football match. Or vice versa. Make peace with time and stop feeling inadequate. You’ll be there for your children’s final match. You are totally reliable for your job and your partner. That’s all.

Besides your incredible energy and love for your family, what else do you need? Money, of course. So, the financial part of your plan is the chapter in which you consider how much you need to support your lifestyle, and where your incomes come from. Sic et simpliciter¹. Don’t be afraid to speak about money with your partner and relatives, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. You need to allocate your financial streams, and you need everyone to agree with the family plan.

Money is a symbol of success and achievement. It allows us to purchase goods and services. It safeguards our families against potential hardships and offers a sense of security

(Money Can’t Buy Happiness, Neither Can Poverty | by LeBreton | Practice in Public | Medium)

Follow the map

You have reached your final step. The last chapter is dedicated to your conclusions. How do you feel about what you’ve planned? How do you think to check that your journey is in line with the map you drew? It might seem very easy, but it’s not.

For example, in your plan, you decided to dedicate a part of your time and energy to your fitness. Great! What’s being in shape to you? A friend of mine decided that being in shape meant climbing two flights of stairs without risking a heart attack. It might be not enough for you (well, to me neither)

Otherwise, you might have planned to commit to charity activities. What’s your idea of charity? Do you want to spend part of your time with people in need? Do you want to sign up for a distance sponsorship? Whichever your goal might be, settle your bar as the limit under which you don’t want to be.

Of course, your plan is simply that, a plan. It’s not a binding contract with life or a court where your dreams are put on trial. It’s fine if things don’t always go as planned. The aim is to have a roadmap to guide you, not a rigid procedure to adhere to. Furthermore, life planning is not a one-time event but a continuous process. Keep planning, keep adjusting, and keep moving towards your ultimate goal. And enjoy.

If life were predictable it would cease to be life and be without flavor

Eleanor Roosevelt

No matter what form your plan takes — be it a document, a poster, or something else — its purpose is to instill confidence, a sense of achievement, and fulfillment in you. If you get these feelings, your first goal is reached.

So, the next time you bump into a Prince or a Former Governor, you can confidently say: “Oh yes, I have my own plan too.”

¹ Sic et simpliciter: so simply (in Latin)

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