Planning Your Advantage – The Career Business Plan

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There ~ Marshall Goldsmith

Most businesses have a plan of some form, why would your career be any different? After all, your career is like a business.  You derive income from the delivery of your services to one client – your employer.

Successful  IT professionals and leaders need a spectrum of hard and soft skills to perform at a level to remain relevant and on top of their game.  While luck can sometimes be a large factor in achieving career success, being at the “right place at the right time”, it is probably not a sustainable strategy in the long term. Having some sort of plan for your career is a good antidote for future failure.

One of the key differences between the evolution of a successful, sustainable organisation-wide business plan is that it is not developed in isolation. Your personal business plan, however often is.  How to you validate the assumptions you have made and stress test your personal plan? This is where working with a trusted, confidential business mentor with deep expertise in IT mentoring can help you test,validate and refine your assumptions as you develop your personal business plan. That seasoned, objective external perspective is crucial in avoiding distorted thinking and setting unrealistic expectations.

Here are a few thought starters:

  • Start simple: Making a personal business plan does not have to be an overly complex process. Beginning with a statement that clearly defines who you are, why you’re where you’re at and where you’re going, will force you to think about evaluating your future initiatives, challenges and issues. By creating your mission statement, you will give yourself a foundation that you can use to achieve these future goals.
  • Make it relevant, for now: Your business plan should include all aspects your life and how your prioritize these. For example, are you in a stage of your life where you have demanding family obligations or are you freer to devote yourself to your career?  Maintaining a realistic outlook on your professional business plan will allow you to focus on achievable goals. Having goals that are achievable in both the short and long term should help you steer towards achieving them.
  • Put pen to paper: By putting it down on paper, your personal business plan will give you something concrete to focus on, and should prompt you to review it for relevance from time to time.  Leaving the ideas in your head is fine, however by committing these to paper, you may find that the ideas in need of some further work!
  • Easier said than done: Don’t beat yourself up too much if you find the creation of a relevant personal business plan a challenge at first. Start by asking yourself the simple questions such as ‘What am I good at?’, ‘What do I enjoy doing?’ or ‘What’s my risk appetite for change?’
  • Start planning: There’s no substitute for action.  Once you’ve formulated your Personal Business Plan, Version 1.0, start implementing practical, measurable plans and following these.

For the individual, there can be no more important a judgement call than setting your own career direction. This direction setting should be regularly reassessed through all stages of a career in response to the inevitable volatility that forms part of life. At key junctions in the process, you may benefit from working with a trusted, confidential business mentor  – someone who can objectively stress test and validate your perspectives and opinions.

Most importantly, if developing your own Personal Business Plan is seen as ‘work’, then reappraise your approach!