Should You Include Personal Stuff In Your Business Plan?

For the Very Small Business plan to work, it needs to make space for all the parts of your life. (photo from istockphoto.com 06-08-09 © cobocoz1)
For the Very Small Business plan to work, it needs to make space for all the parts of your life. (photo from istockphoto.com 06-08-09 © cobocoz1)

I get this question a lot: in my annual plan, should I just write about my business goals or should I include personal things, too?

Short answer: if you are the chairman of a General Motors, your business plan should not include anything about your personal bathroom renovation.  No, your plan will include five-year financial projections, a thorough competitive analysis, a run-down of the key staff … (are your eyes blurry yet?)

But if you run a Very Small Business, especially a one-person business, then your business plan should look entirely different. One way it will look different is to include some very personal goals and actions.

All businesses are required to make a profit — that’s one of the defining characteristics of a business. But the Very Small Business has another job as well: your business must support your lifestyle. It has to provide some sort of flexibility, benefit, or reward that goes well beyond what a job could ever provide. This is both a reward of having your own business, and a business necessity.

For the solo entrepreneur, there is often little separation between the business and the rest of life.  If your office is in your home, then anything that happens in your home, such as a bathroom renovation or the presence of guests, will dramatically impact your productivity. Your family obligations may place limits on your business, such as needing an afternoon away from the office each week to care for an aging parent or pick up a child at school.

Even though in some ways as a solo entrepreneur you ARE your business, it is always useful to think of your business as a completely separate entity. It is your business’ responsibility to compensate you for your contributions. The business pays you with money, of course, and also with intangible but essential benefits. What does your life require? Flexible hours? Lots of training? Time for volunteer work? Time to oversee a bathroom renovation? Good, write it in your plan.

When you make your annual plan (and quarterly and monthly plans) it only makes sense to take account of your personal needs and aspirations, so that your business can perform its functions of making a happy profit and supporting you, its owner, in lifestyle and purpose as well as cash.

 

 

One Response to Should You Include Personal Stuff In Your Business Plan?

  1. Margaret, including personal stuff in my business plan has really made me a more well-rounded person. I have a much more balanced life now because I don’t ignore the fact that yes, I love, love, love my work… but I have a life too. Thanks for reminding us of this.

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