As entrepreneurs, we may often feel confident about where we are and where we’re headed in our careers. However, sometimes it is a good idea to step back and take a look at the big picture.
Personal development plans are essentially a broader set of goals that are similar to a map to get you to your final destination of business success. Creating a personal development plan for yourself and your business can help you achieve the big goals over a number of years.
Here are some key points to help you get started with your personal development plan, and get you on the path to seeing your business goals come to fruition.
1. Create a Vision Board
Your personal development plan is essentially a map for where you want to go with your online business. But before you map everything out, you need to determine your destination, and a vision board will help you do that. You can create a vision board in a number of ways. If you are the creative type, get out the scissors and glue and make a real-life vision board with images that mirror where you see yourself and your business in the future. If you’re more analytical, typing up a vision board and highlighting key words and phrases might be more your style.
Your vision board should include the answers to the following questions:
- What do you want to achieve with your online business?
- What brings you a sense of accomplishment?
- What energizes you?
- What does your ideal day look like?
- What does your ideal year look like?
- What are your plans for expansion?
2. Outline Your Strengths
Once you have a clear vision of these answers, you’re ready to get started creating your development plan: your map to reach the destination you’ve envisioned. Type or write out your action plan and keep it in a place where you can reference it in the future.
The first step to making a business action plan is to outline your strengths. Determine what you’re good at when it comes to your business and make a list. Include your qualifications and experience: these are things that set you and your business apart from the rest.
If you are highly adaptable, write it down. Good at networking? That’s a great strength to possess. If you’re having trouble thinking of your strong suits, start in a broad scope and then work your way down to more specific and practical skills.
This is a time for you to be positive about yourself, but not ultra-idealistic. Be honest and realistic with yourself about your true strengths. If you identify areas that you are good at but would like to see marked improvement, consider putting those skills in the need improvement column.
3. Identify Areas That Need Improvement
Identifying your weaknesses is just as important as being confident about your strengths. These are areas where you can improve in order to strengthen your leadership skills as an entrepreneur and improve your business overall.
Are there any entrepreneurial skills you need to learn that would help advance your business? Jot them down. Perhaps you’ve dabbled with website design or marketing, but would like to get better at both. Write those down in this category.
Perhaps you need to get better at time management, organization, or any number of quotidian business skills. If you’ve got those covered, think about ways that you could bolster your business with creativity, depth of knowledge, and additional research.
Seek Guidance from a Business Coach or Mentor
Identifying your strengths and weaknesses can be difficult without the help of an objective outside perspective. If you’re struggling to identify which areas of your business strategy need improvement, or are simply looking for ways to grow your own personal development, you might benefit from hiring a business coach. Having a trusted outside source as a point of reference will not only help with developing your business strategy, but will allow you to leverage their industry experience and knowledge to drive positive results for your company.
4. Set Goals for Improving Your Weaker Skills
Once you’ve identified your strengths and weaknesses, sit back and assess how you can improve on your weaknesses and move them into the strengths column. Seek out online tutorials for a certain skill. Search for classes in your area that may offer refresher courses on networking, marketing, and the like. If you need to improve in an area of your business, chances are there is an available resource to help you.
Take advice from the experts by reading books from leaders in your field. Many successful business people share what worked for them and what didn’t in memoirs and self-help books. Set time aside to read these books and learn from those who have gone before you.
Set Firm Yet Realistic Deadlines to Help You Meet Your Goals
Whether you’re looking to streamline your marketing strategy, hoping to learn a new skill, or looking for ways to expand your creative thinking, each long term goal you set needs a realistic deadline to help align your expectations and keep you motivated. Setting a firm deadline helps to focus your vision and prevent menial, everyday tasks from getting in the way of achieving your long term goals.
Hold yourself accountable by setting a timely personal goal for when you are going to improve on these entrepreneurial skills. Mark the timeline down on your calendar. For example, you might say that by the end of the second quarter of the current year, you’ll have taken at least two online skills courses and read at least one book from an expert in your field.
5. Adapt Your Plan As You Move Forward
Your specific goals do not have to be achieved in one quarter or even one year. Your personal development plan is not something that is set in stone; it can be changed and re-directed as you learn more about your entrepreneurial field.
Perhaps you take a couple of the classes that helped improve some of the weaknesses on your list, but decide that the skills you thought you needed weren’t as important. This is not a failure, but an opportunity for personal growth.
As you move toward becoming a successful entrepreneur, be prepared to move in a different direction but always keeping an eye on the vision board of your final destination: where you want your company and your feet to eventually land whether it be months or years in the making.
As you learn more about your field you may find that there are new interests and skills that you need to add to your “needs improvement” list. Take time to reassess every so often to stay balanced, grounded, and on track.
Stick to Your Vision
Schedule time to check in with your personal development plan and your vision board. Review your vision board every few months and make changes as necessary. If there are new goals you’d like to set, change old ones or add new ones as needed.
Check in with your goals and your vision board frequently to reassure yourself that you are on the right track. Your vision may change slightly, but that is to be expected as you learn, grow, gain new experience, and add depth and breadth to your field of knowledge.
Now that you’ve got your personal development plan, it’s time to go forth and conquer your set goals! Good luck!