Take Responsibility for Your Career by Adopting an Entrepreneurial Mindset
It is easy for a term like entrepreneurial mindset to become a cliché, so let me frame it simply as: An entrepreneur is someone who finds a way to deliver something that someone else needs.
Usually, when we think about an entrepreneur, we envision a small business. But small businesses have a way of becoming big businesses when they solve the equation of knowing what the customer wants, knowing about marketplace trends and knowing what their competitors are doing well. But it’s also knowing what’s missing!
That might seem obvious in the world of commerce, but it applies equally to you as an individual, the entrepreneur who is in charge of your own career. Make no mistake about it. As a salaried employee or manager, you might not feel like an entrepreneur. But if you don’t take self-responsibility for your own career, you give permission for others to define you. Don’t rely on your manager to be responsible for your career. They have their own challenges and besides, why would you give away the power over your destiny?
The only way you will exceed your wildest dreams is to see yourself as an entrepreneur. No matter how great of a team player or compassionate leader you see yourself as being, at the end of the day, you are an individual selling a service. That service is your professional ability to make others successful and you are selling it to your employer for a price.
A company’s loyalty to you extends only as far as your value to the company at this moment and how you are positioned for contributing to their bigger future. It’s all about knowing the KPI’s that your company will measure your value. Working hard and being loyal are wonderful attributes but not enough to sustain guaranteed employment or promotion.
Let’s break this down into two sectors: the outside you and the inside you.
The Outside You
The “outside you” represents you as an individual; the person that you are. Your career is your entrepreneurial business. You need to know what to offer to stay attractive to your current employer or to be attractive to a new employer. What differentiates you from the competition? An ability to manage teams in hybrid and distributed scenarios might be a new piece of expertise that you could embrace. Or perhaps learning about a new technology that is taking your industry by storm.
At the same time, be savvy about your current job market. Who’s hiring? Who is rated as a great place to work for? Which companies are now on your radar as geographic requirements have changed and how large is your network to find individuals who can sponsor you?
The Inside You
The same applies to your present employer. What’s hot and valuable? What does your employer value and what are they expecting from you? Someone who understands the ins and outs of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB), or cyberhygiene, or distributed teams?
Become indispensable with your current employer while staying sharp to act upon opportunities to interview with other companies for assessing your value in the marketplace. It’s all about what the market wants and how you can pivot your career to find and capture the job of your dreams.
Book time to self-reflect so you’re aware of what’s going on around you. Whether you run a kitchen-table solo-business, or you’re on a career track in a Fortune 500 company, there are skills, physical, technical, intellectual, and political that must be discovered and mastered. Take the time to learn something new about your profession, using microlearning techniques.
Expand your internal network – people who can help showcase your value and expertise within your company. Reciprocate in the form of “netgiving”. It can be as simple as a thank you note or offering to return the favor by coaching one of their direct reports.
Review your LinkedIn contacts and identify who you could benefit from a deeper connection. Reach out with a personal request as to why you would love to connect. Think about how you might reciprocate for their time and do it quickly.
To paraphrase Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited, spend some time working ON your career, rather than spending all of it working IN your career.
That’s what the Entrepreneurial Mindset represents: the art of staying aware of what the market needs and identifying how you can expertly provide it with authenticity and Intention.