Monday, March 16, 2009

Takin’ Care of Business: Everyone’s an Entrepreneur

This is the first in the ten part series called, Takin’ Care of Business – Making Work Work for You.

You could be a teacher, a customer service representative, a waitress, a chef, a truck driver, a manager or a dog trainer. It doesn’t matter. You are a CEO. You are the Chief Executive Officer of a little company called You.

As the CEO, you are responsible for maintaining the vision and direction for the company. You are the one who decides what investments to make and what losses to cut. You make the decisions that decide whether you make a profit or suffer a loss … and unfortunately, there is no big bailout money for your business.

When you realize that you are the CEO of your career, you will make the right investments: getting that degree or that certification, upgrading your wardrobe, or joining that professional organization. You will plot the course and maintain the vision. Where do you want to be in two years or five? What is your plan for getting that promotion?

A CEO’s first priority is the survival and success of his or her company and your goal is the same. The Era of the Gold Watch is over. My grandfather spent over 40 years at the steel mill. When he retired, he got a nice pension and a gold watch. In Corporate America, the average worker stays on the job for 3-4 years. You don’t even qualify for a Swatch watch after that.

You are responsible for making yourself marketable. You are responsible for investing in yourself. Keeping your nose clean and being good at your job is no longer enough. I had several co-workers who were ‘good at their jobs’, but it didn’t stop corporate from flying in, calling them into Human Resources, throwing a small severance at them and escorting out of the building — so much for seven or eight years of work and loyalty.

In today’s economic climate, you have to always be thinking of the next step. You can’t expect your boss or your company to do it for you. A CEO is concerned about the health of its company. Likewise, you need to be concerned about the health of your career and your bank account.
So start acting like you are the one with the big corner office. Start making some executive decisions regarding your career, your benefits and your bottom line:

  • Do you need additional training?

  • Are you in a position with upward mobility?

  • Are you making the most of your 401K?

  • Should you go back to school?

  • Are you up-to-date on the software applications you need to learn?

  • If you were offered a promotion right now, would you have the skills and the knowledge to jump into that position and hit the ground running?

  • If the answer to that question is no, then what can you do to prepare yourself to go to the next level?

Sure, there is a recession going on. I know things are extremely difficult for job seekers and people stuck in jobs they don’t like. All this means is that it even more critical to take control of your career now. Don’t wait until you are downsized to start making change. Don’t wait until things get go from bad to worse. Even if you are happy where you are and doing what you are doing, now is the time to take the reins.

As CEO of You, what will be the first executive decision you make?

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