If you’ve been in the business world for any length of time, you’re probably already familiar with business models. A business model defines a company’s value and describes how it will generate profit and achieve its goals.
When creating business models, companies ask themselves questions like:
Why are we in business?
What is our core value proposition?
What do we need to go to market?
What resources do we need to run efficiently?
What steps will it take to hit our revenue goals?
It takes a lot of time and energy to create a business model. But having a well-conceived business model is like a roadmap for success. It gives our businesses purposeful direction.
So, why can’t we do the same thing for ourselves as individuals? Spoiler alert! We can and should!
The Importance of a Personal Business Model
We all have value to offer the world, but not all of us have a well-defined purpose. We all want to have purpose and in fact, it’s a basic need for humans. Yet many of us leave our personal success up to chance.
Do you know what your purpose in life is right now? Do you ever think about who receives your value? Do you experience rewards for sharing your value with others (e.g., Does it give you energy? Does it make you feel good)?
Maybe you know your purpose, but haven’t yet developed a clear plan for achieving that purpose. Just like a business model, you need resources to reach your goals. Perhaps you need classes, more sleep, mentors, a stronger friend group, or a better income. But do you know exactly what you need?
Thriving businesses look at all the pieces (and missing pieces) of an organization as parts of an integrated whole and put plans together to create success, and we can (and should) do the same thing for ourselves.
Now, you might think creating a personal business plan sounds like a lot of work. Why not just write down your life’s purpose, and call it a day? Well, your brain needs a lot more than that to get you where you want to be in life.
Your Brains Need a Plan. Here’s Why.
The brain’s primary purpose is to keep us safe and alive. So, it creates patterns and develops habits to keep life predictable and safe. Which means we spend much of our lives on autopilot. If we don’t focus on what we want, our brains will ignore anything new.
So, if we aren’t intentional about our purpose, our brains are going to ignore it. This is part of the reason people leave jobs, change careers, or jump out of relationships. They feel like something is missing, and they know they need to change something in their lives, but they don’t have a plan beyond making that change.
What we focus on is what we work towards.
Focus is critically important to long-term success. For our brains to give our life’s purpose any attention, it needs to be clear, succinct, and meaningful. By focusing on our purpose, our brain begins to believe it.
For example, if you’re constantly thinking, “This job is a drag, and it has no meaning to me,” you’re going to believe it. But, if you instead keep thinking, “I’m really great at this job, and it serves my higher purpose,” your brain will perceive it as absolute fact.
While our brains are designed to keep us safe and alive, purpose gives our brains energy, aka fuel, and that fuel (Dopamine) motivates us. Then, the striatum and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) sustain that motivation.
When we create a personal business model, we manufacture motivation, which not only makes us feel good by connecting us to our purpose, but also gives us incentive to work toward achieving our purpose. Who doesn’t want that? Defining and working towards a well-defined purpose keeps us motivated and focused on our goals — even through the hard times.
3 Steps for Creating your Winning Personal Business Plan
Here’s how to break down the barriers and start to create a personal business plan that works for you.
Step One: Define your purpose.
A lot of people think that defining your purpose is about the work you do. But that’s not the whole picture. This step is about YOU, not your job or industry. It’s about figuring out what is true for you at this moment in time right now.
Ask yourself what you want your purpose in life to be today. It might be about what you do for work, but it just as likely might not be. And remember, your purpose can always change over time. The point is, it’s important to clearly define your current purpose, because when you get this level of clarity, it will transcend all aspects of your life — including your career.
Be as straightforward as possible about your purpose. For example, “I want to create a safe space for others to explore new career possibilities” is better than “I want to make a difference.” The second statement is too vague to energize the brain.
Whatever your purpose is, it needs to be clear and have meaning for you. You’ll know you’re on the right track if it generates brain energy (dopamine) and motivates action.
Step Two: Define the pieces around your purpose.
Like a good business model, your personal business model needs to include all the pieces surrounding your purpose:
What does your purpose look like in action?
What do you need to make it happen? (People, resources, training, etc.)
What skills do you lack?
Is your current environment moving you closer to or further away from your goal?
How do you know you’re achieving your life’s purpose?
Put a definition around your purpose to make it crystal clear for your brain.
Step Three: Put together an initial plan.
Once your purpose and accompanying pieces are clear, start creating your plan. Keep it simple and tangible enough to accomplish and measure regularly. Your steps may be things like reading a book, meeting with a mentor once a month, exercising three times a week, or doing something kind for someone every day.
Make your initial steps easy to follow and create a method for measuring your progress toward achieving your purpose. For example, you might devote fifteen minutes each month to assessing your development and reevaluating your plan, or you might share your model with a friend for accountability.
Your goal is just to get started.
Bringing your Personal Business Model to Life
As you work on your personal business model, your purpose and action steps will become clearer, which will ramp up your motivation to make it happen. Your purpose and goals will probably evolve over time, and that’s okay, too.
The most important thing is that you’re giving yourself a roadmap for success and no longer leaving it up to chance! We always seem to be willing to do this work for our businesses, but often put our personal success in the hands of fate. We need to be willing to put the work in for ourselves as well.
And here’s the exciting part: focusing on personal development will translate directly to your professional life. It will give you passion and energy, not to mention increase and sustain your daily motivation, too (thanks, dopamine).
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