I’ll never forget the scene from You’ve Got Mail where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are sitting in Ryan’s living room after she’s discovered he’s the man who owns the big-box bookstore that put her little neighborhood bookstore out of business. Hanks looks at her and says, “It wasn’t personal.” Ryan’s character replies, “It was personal to me. What’s so wrong with being personal anyway? Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin with being personal.”

Though it’s just a romantic comedy, I find that statement to be very significant and important for business owners and entrepreneurs to think about. Business is personal – or at least it should be. And that personal side of a business exists (and matters) on a number of levels.

Our lives are a complex mix of our work life and our personal life. Each affects the other. We pour our heart, soul, and sweat equity into our businesses. And if we have a family, we pour our hearts and souls into those relationships too. But there are only so many hours in a day and we often have to choose where our time and attention will go. Success (or failure) in business also has a huge impact on our ability to live the life we desire. I mean, let’s be honest, we start businesses to earn a living, right? It isn’t all about money, but without money we can’t pay our personal bills or plan for the future.

Taking the personal into account when planning for starting or growing a business is a good strategy. It’s not just about what we will sell and who we will sell it to. In other words, it’s not just the what, it’s the why and how. In addition to putting systems and processes in place to make our businesses run efficiently, we should consider our values, ideals for work-life balance, and financial needs as we set goals and plan.

For example, do you have a family or a significant other in your life? What are their expectations for your work-life balance? How important is it to have time to pursue other interests or spend time with family and friends? Are your goals for revenue realistic based on the balance you’re looking for between time spent working and time spent enjoying the fruits of all your hard work? Someone who is solely focused on building a business will make very different choices than someone who has other priorities. Neither is right or wrong. It’s just a personal preference. But it’s important to be clear and honest with yourself about what a successful business ‘looks like’ for you personally when you’re planning and setting goals.

Also on the personal side, we all come into a business with strengths and weaknesses that affect how we run and manage that business – everything from our skillset to our Natural Productivity Style to our energy level and how we manage money, which includes our mindset around money. All those things should be honestly evaluated and discussed to avoid unnecessary challenges down the road. Do you know what your Natural Productivity Style is? Have you considered your skillset and what might be lacking when it comes to carrying out your business plan? How will you fill those gaps? When it comes to gaps, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

Finally, what is the human side to what you’re doing? Are you just in it for the money or is this a passion or a calling for you? How can you serve your customers and build a strong reputation for your brand?

For me, I don’t think of what I do as ‘selling’ something. I see it as an opportunity to share my skills and expertise with others to help them achieve their goals and dreams. I am personally invested in the success of every client I take on. Do your clients sense that same interest in truly helping them solve some problem and making their lives easier from you? And what culture are you creating and nurturing for employees, if you have them? Is it one of service and respect for both them and your customers? Does this focus on service come across in your marketing and daily operations?

The personal is very much a part of business. Unfortunately, too many small business owners and entrepreneurs don’t take the personal side of business into account. But it really does matter. Planning for business is a mix of practical and personal – or it should be. Factoring personal considerations in to the goals you’re setting and the planning to get you there will offer you a greater chance of being successful in both areas of your life.


Need some help with business planning and creating harmony between the professional and the personal? The Productivity Experts can help. Contact me today and let’s get started!