Run Your Career Like it’s A Business

Too often, people who draw a paycheck from someone else forget that they need to manage their careers just like a business. They adopt a “wait and see” attitude about promotions rather than proactively planning for the next step. They also allow the luster to be diminished on their greatest product – themselves.

Companies use a business plan to chart their course for the next several years. They establish the sales level they want to achieve in two years, five years, or ten years. They then take a realistic look at what is needed to reach those levels.

You should ask yourself what job you want to have in the future. Set time lines, such as five and ten years, that are the target dates for working in those positions. Analyze what you need to reach your goals. Do you need additional certification or training to be a strong candidate for the job? If so, how will you pay for the courses in both time and money? Are there personal attributes you need to address, such as “people skills” or a tendency to arrive late at the office? Lay out your plan and begin working on the next promotion as soon as you receive the last one.

Businesses also make sure that their products are presented in the best light. They hire advertising agencies to develop tag lines for each product so that consumers will remember the name when shopping. Products are marketed as innovative ideas that provide solutions to difficult problems Commercials never show the product failing to perform as expected, regardless of how many attempts are required to get it just right. Backdrops and flattering lights are designed to make the product appear even more enticing.

By the same token, you want to make sure that you present yourself in your best light. You are selling a product, which is your competence, experience, and knowledge. Your work should reflect your abilities. Let it show the diligence, creativity, and care you have lavished on it. Don’t turn in work that is less than the best you can do with the time and materials available. Whenever possible, sign your work so that everyone along the chain of command will know the source. You want them to create a tag line for you, one that is associated with outstanding performance.

Check your personal baggage at the door each morning when you report for work. A business strives to be known as a company that can deliver a quality product in a timely manner. Any publicity of inner turmoil can affect both sales and stock prices. Airing your personal problems at work can also reduce the value of your currency. Keep your professional life separate from your personal life.

Take a good look at the successful people in your industry, just as a business evaluates its competition. Analyze why they have succeeded and see if you possess the same qualities. Often, a promotion goes not to the absolute brightest candidate but the one who takes the necessary steps to market himself as the best choice. Position yourself so that when decisions are made, there is no more logical selection than to promote you.