This week I gave a workshop called “Your Emotional Business Plan” to a group of up-and-coming women entrepreneurs. We discussed how traditional business plans ignore emotions. They include elements like market strategies, competitive analysis, operations, management and finances. And yet, the emotional aspects of business can be just as essential to success as any of those factors.
In the book The Start-up of You, LinkedIn founders Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha suggest that in today’s economy “everyone is a small business” and we can all take an entrepreneurial approach to managing our careers.
So, whether you work for yourself, a major corporation or a non-profit, you need a plan to manage the emotional ups-and-downs that come with every career. An emotional business plan is a written document that will improve your emotional self-awareness and self-management by articulating the emotions that are holding you back and making plans to increase courage and resilience so that your career can flourish.
Here are five reasons why you should write an emotional business plan.
1. Fear of failure is holding you back. Fear of failure keeps us from starting a business, growing a business, and entering untested markets. In more traditional jobs, fear of failure keeps us stuck in that “dead-end” job we’ve been doing for years. With an emotional business plan, you will identify the reasons underneath your fear of failure and articulate steps you can take to be more courageous.
2. You secretly feel like a fraud. Don’t we all feel like a fraud at one time or another? Also known as “imposter syndrome,” when we feel like an imposter or fraud, we devalue our own expertise and the unique contributions. It’s often difficult for us to speak clearly and specifically about our value – and put a monetary amount on it – because we have been raised to be humble and not brag. Writing an emotional business plan will help you articulate your worth, for yourself and your clients.
3. Ignoring your emotions doesn't work. Successful entrepreneur Chip Conley’s book Emotional Equations reminds us that, “one of the simple truths about life is that the more we ignore our emotions, the more likely they are to wield a powerful influence over us.” If you are harboring emotions but ignoring them – say pretending like you are not scared to send the draft of your book to a publisher – than those emotions will take an even greater control over you. Surfacing these feelings in your emotional business plan gives them less power.
4. Bad is stronger than good. In all realms of life, negative events have a stronger sway on our overall mood than positive ones. For example, people are more upset about losing $50 than they are happy about winning $50. And the effect of the negative event tends to stick with us longer than the effect of the positive event. To counteract this, your emotional business plan should include elements about how you are going to cope with foreseeable negative events as well as strategies for enhancing the positive experiences and giving them more weight and sway over your mood.
5. Your customers/clients make their decisions based on emotions. When we pretend that emotions are not a part of business, we are overlooking a crucial element: most people make purchasing decisions based on emotions. Your emotional business plan is not just about you, it’s also about the emotional needs of your clients and how your services or products are going to meet their needs. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or employed by a multi-billion dollar corporation, your business will be more successful when you tap into your customer’s emotional sweet spot.