Ever heard about the concept of You, Inc.? I like to compare myself and how I live life to a company or organization. Just like a company I have a budget, I need to make profit and I would like to grow. This isn’t a new concept as you can find books on Amazon with the title “You Inc” (I should read one of those by the way). But it is a way of thinking that has helped me to keep my finances organized, think methodically my life and seek personal improvement. But let’s add another layer to that thinking: would you buy a share of You, Inc.?
Think about it. Imagine you could put yourself on the stock market like any corporation and sell shares to investors. Would anybody buy a share? Would you buy a share in You, Inc.?
Emotions and feelings aside, when you choose to invest in a business you are expressing the belief that business will grow in value. So? Do think you think make for a good investment?
When you make an important investment in a business, you would do a thorough analysis of that business. Let’s analyze You, Inc. shall we?
If a business is not profitable and generating money, you’d be less inclined to buy shares of it.
In personal finance your profitability equates to your savings rate. Which kind of business would you rather buy shares from: one that is losing money or one that boasts 50% profit margin? I have my preference as a rule of thumb. Unless a business is a start-up, I would prefer a seeing a high profit margin. Likewise, unless you are in school, your aim is rock a healthy profit!
When you buy shares in a company you look for evidence that its revenues will grow over the years to come.
How is your outlook on your income? Are you anticipating aggressive growth or is your outlook flat at best, maybe even “iffy”? Are you sourcing your income from one single source or can you diversify and strengthen You Inc? As CEO of You Inc, are you constantly looking into the future and preparing for market evolutions that can impact your earnings?
A company needs innovation to keep growing and secure revenues in the long-term.
In You Inc you do R&D projects by educating yourself, reading books, learning new skills. Is You Inc at the cutting edge of technology and latest developments or are you an old and dusty mill waiting pushed aside by a more advanced competitor?
Sound management can turn bad companies into good ones and can turn good companies into great ones.
How are you managing You Inc? Do you have processes and tools that help you guide your business (written goals, budget, filing systems for documents and administration,…)?
Are you spending enough time on maintenance and upkeep ( = taking care of your health and fitness)? Because every manager knows it gets costly to fix things that are broken. Regular maintenance on the other hand, only comes at a fraction of that cost. As a CEO of You Inc., do you show the integrity and leadership required to run a successful enterprise?
Is You, Inc. a place were the employees watch Facebook all day and pretend to work or is it on the other side of the spectrum where stress and burnout wreak havoc?
Another fancy word for a business ecosystem is a business cluster. Have you ever noticed how similar companies flock together? For example tech companies in Silicon Valley, big banks on Wall Street, life science companies sit in the region of Boston, etc… That is called clustering. Companies flock together in an ecosystem because together they are stronger. They can pool from the best talent, geographical conditions, presence of demand and supply, community support, etc…
As a leader you should make sure that You Inc is properly clustered. Are you surrounded by other successful You, Incs. that can show you the ropes, mentor you and motivate you? Or are your surroundings barren and toxic wastelands? If so you need to change that asap, because there is no way your “company” can become prosperous in such an environment.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR isn’t just a fad to soothe the masses about the misbehaving of large corporations. No! Some might even put forward that by behaving responsibly large corporations can increase their profits. The theory is that doing good is good for a company’s bottom line.
Ease to understand how this translates to You Inc. Are you only in it for yourself or are you giving back and spending time in your community? What will you legacy be when you leave this world? Good citizenship also keeps you out of the hands of the law. Which is always a plus if you want to build wealth :-).
Would you invest in You Inc?
Go through each of the topics and analyze You, Inc. against this framework.
Are you showing improvement and a positive outlook? Or is performance on any of these topics flat or even bleak? Go through the list and decide for yourself: would you buy a share of You, Inc. if it were a business? Are you heading somewhere good and making? Or do you need management to turn around You inc and get this company back in shape.
Make You Inc Great
Probably things aren’t that black-and-white and maybe there are some topics on which you are really doing well and others on which the scores need to improve? Which action can you take today and every next day to come to improve that item gradually? I for instance, need to put more effort in building a solid network and find a great ecosystem to thrive in. You never have a too strong of a network.
And even if everything seems to be going nicely, keep your eyes on the prize and continue grinding. Remember how Nokia got pushed of its throne in a matter of years? Keep that in mind as you continue building You, Inc. and improving yourself. There is no place for complacency in this world.
There is one fundamental area where this analogy stops working. Companies can only successfully turn around and grow if it’s strategy is clearly defined and all its employees are aligned and working to a common goal. It takes an enormous effort to get everyone on the same page and this is exactly where You, Inc. is at advantage. It is just you. You decide. And you do it. It’s that simple.
What about You?
Have you ever looked at your finances and life in general in this way? I think it offers an easy, objective and non-emotional way of looking at life. What’s your opinion? Join me in the comment section below…