Did you know that you’re already your own boss? That’s because your career is a business, and you are the product. Depending on the statistic, it’s estimated that the average person will change careers five to seven times during their working life. Regardless of the exact number, it’s likely that you will have several careers during your lifetime. Since professional development is no longer linear, it’s more important than ever to take charge of your future. Here are some ways to manage your career like a business so that you can find the fulfillment that you deserve.
Focus on your strengths
Focusing on too many skills and talents at once will not allow you to achieve optimal results. Even more important is to home in on what you do best. The most common mistake people make is to focus on improving their weaknesses. Instead, concentrate on what you are naturally talented at so that you can go from good to great. Ideally, these are also activities that you enjoy. There are even health benefits to strength-building in the workplace. Studies show that people who use their strengths at work are more energetic, confident, healthy, creative, satisfied, and engaged.
Build your brand
With the explosion of social media and the gig economy, branding is important not only at the corporate level but also at the individual level. It’s called personal branding, and it’s all about telling a compelling story with you as the central character. Your personal brand is the unique combination of skills and experiences that make you who you are and allow you to stand out from the crowd. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is famously quoted as saying, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Great personal branding will differentiate you from competitors and allow you to build trust with prospective clients and employers.
One way to manage your career like a business is through promotion—especially as it relates to your personal brand. A great way to market yourself is by creating a standalone personal website. All you need to begin is a simple layout with an “about” page and a blog. Share content consistently across your personal social media profiles to position yourself as a subject matter expert. If your website has an opt-in, you can even create a weekly newsletter. You may also consider starting a vlog or your own podcast. The essential things are to target the right audience and continually increase your visibility.
Know your audience
Running your career like a business means knowing your customer. This could be your boss or the person you have a job interview with. Take time to understand their pain points. What do they need, and how are you able to provide value? What problem are you solving? Clearly defining your target audience helps you develop a consistent message and effective branding.
Stand out from the crowd
What separates you from the competition and makes you unique? Figure out your brand differentiators and try to fill a void rather than follow the pack. Tammy Perkins, Chief People Officer at PMI Worldwide, offers this advice,” Ultimately you want to be your authentic self, showing potential employers how your skills are uniquely differentiated from others, while also sharing your passion, along with supporting work examples and accomplishments. Do all three, and you have a chance to stand out with recruiters and hiring managers.”
It’s crucial to grow and evolve to remain competitive in a constantly changing workplace. Manage your career by keeping up to date on the latest trends in your industry and adapting accordingly. Commit to ongoing learning. Expand your knowledge and skills. Get the training you need to move to the next level. The more you step up your game, the more valuable you will be to your manager, team and company. This approach also positions you for future opportunities that may exist outside of your current company or industry.
Develop a long-term plan
To manage your career like a business, you need a long-range plan. Change is so rampant in corporate America that a long-term strategy is probably no longer than five years. When designing your career, identify what you would like to be doing. Is it a more senior job within your own company or perhaps a different field altogether? Next, develop a set of specific steps you must take to attain that long-term objective. Make sure to write your goals down (on paper) and review them regularly.
Ultimately, you’re the CEO of your career. By implementing these simple strategies, you’ll find yourself not only advancing professionally but also enjoying the ride.
If you’ve been feeling stuck and aren’t sure it’s time to make a career shift, download my free guide: 5 Signs It’s Time to Make a Bold Career Change!