Manage Your Career Like An Entrepreneur

So you want to boost your career, climb the corporate ladder, and improve your earning power. In today’s economy, it’s all too easy to feel powerless and fall into the mindset that someone else occupies the driver’s seat when it comes to steering your career in the right direction. 

Fortunately, that’s not altogether true. While your job options may be limited at this time, you possess a great deal of power to transform your career over the long-term. The secret lies in thinking of yourself, your personal brand, like a start-up business and taking the same approach to building your career as you would to building that business.

It’s important to begin by facing the facts. You may be an extraordinarily talented individual, but the fact remains that a million different people could do your job. Attempting to be better than everyone else will get you nowhere. Instead, you must focus on carving out your own professional niche and becoming the best in that particular realm. 

In their new book “The Start-Up of YOU: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career,” authors Reid Hoffman, co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn, and Ben Casnocha lay out three dynamic pieces to help you position yourself in the market: 

  • Assets – This basically refers to what you have going for yourself right now. It includes soft assets, like knowledge, skills, and connections, along with more traditional “hard” assets, like cash in the bank.
  • Aspirations and Values – This piece entails where you would like to go career-wise in the future.
  • Market Realities – This part focuses on what people will actually pay you for.

 The authors continue by laying out a number of tips for surviving and thriving in today’s competitive world. Adopting them will help you create the right job search mindset and marketing message. They include: 

  • Developing a competitive advantage to win the best jobs and opportunities
  • Adapting your career plans as you change, as the people around you change, and as industries change
  • Strengthening your professional network by building powerful alliances and maintaining a diverse mix of relationships
  • Identifying unique breakout opportunities that will accelerate your career growth
  • Take proactive risks to become more resilient to industry tsunamis
  • Tapping your network for information and intelligence that will help you make better decisions

Regardless of whether you take the initiative to read the book, the main lesson is this: If you want to build your career, you must adopt the mindset of a small business owner. Think of yourself as the business and your skills and knowledge as the product or service. Brainstorm about what steps you would take to build a business and adapt those same steps to your own personal brand. Invest in yourself, build your professional networks, take intelligent risks, and find ways to make uncertainty and volatility work to your advantage. As the recovery continues and you look to the future, you may just find yourself a couple of rungs up the ladder after all.

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