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How to Build a Business Plan For Your Personal Brand

How to Build a Business Plan For Your Personal Brand
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The following is the sixth in the series "Personal Branding For A Better Life," in which marketing expert Jim Joseph applies big brand marketing lessons to help you build a successful personal brand.

If you were marketing a big brand for a living, the notion of outlining an annual marketing business plan would be second nature to you. Those of us who have managed brands through the years are very much used to the process.

Every year, usually right about now actually, marketers carve out what needs to be accomplished in the next year -- how it’s all going to get done and how much it’s going to cost, with a course of action for each piece needed to accomplish the brand’s goals. This is done on an annual basis, but also on a rolling basis for one, three, five and ten years out.

When it comes to your personal brand and what you want to accomplish, you should do the same.

Start out with a simple exercise and write out your goals. It may sound obvious, but you need to know where you want to go before you can create a plan for how to get there. You can’t move year-to-year without knowing what direction you want to head in the long term.

While planning out your brand, you need to be very specific about your goals. What do you want to accomplish, both personally and professionally over the next few years? What do you want, both short-term and long-term?

This exercise may seem obvious, but it’s not always easy.

Do you want to have children? Do you want a life partner? Where do you want to live? What kind of company do you want to work for? What do you aspire to do in your chosen field?

Think of your personal goals as a rolling weather forecast. Start with what you want ten years from now, and then work backwards. You could go even farther out, but it gets kind of difficult to think too far ahead. I think it’s easier to think in ten-year increments, but that’s just me.

It’s a classic interview question, although now it has increased importance: Where do you want to be in ten years? Now you can answer that because you have a personal brand.

From there you can map out an interim five-year goal and then an even closer three-year goal and so on.

Me? I always knew I wanted to go into marketing, that was my ten-year goal back in the day. Someone told me that in order to do that I needed to get an MBA (at least at the time). In order to get an MBA, I needed some good business experience coming out of college. In order to get some good business experience, I needed a good college education in marketing.

See how it all flows? One accomplishment flows into the other along a cohesive plan, which is why you have to map it all out if you want to accomplish anything.

By the time I was actually in my first marketing job at Johnson & Johnson, it was the culmination of a ten-year process of goal setting, with interim steps along the way. Being an assistant product director at J&J wasn’t my end goal, hence I kept working through a rolling ten-year plan. I’m still working on it, which is why this year included writing my third book and this column for Entrepreneur.

I also made career decisions along the way based on my personal goals of having children and helping them along their paths. I knew that being a Dad had to be a part of my brand, so I planned accordingly. This year I became an empty nester after twenty-years, so my new rolling ten-year plan is shifting once again.

You’ll want to look at all aspects of your life when you set your goals, and how your personal and professional decisions affect your brand. Both sides should roll into each other to form your personal brand.

Have some fun with it. Start with that classic interview question and work backwards from there. Keep your plan rolling from year to year, refreshing it along the way, just as you would a business plan.

You’ll be amazed how much easier and more rewarding it is to live your life when you know what you want and how you’ll get there.

Where do you want to be in ten years? Tell us in the comments below.

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Jim Joseph is the North American president of New York-based communications agency Cohn & Wolfe, part of the media company WPP Group PLC. He is the author of three books, including the latest, The Personal Experience Effect (Happy About 2013). Joseph also teaches marketing at New York University and blogs at JimJosephExp.com.

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