Entrepreneurs have the right perspective for what it takes to excel simply because they hold the keys to their success. While the definition of success depends on the individual, the characteristics to deliver excellence remain the same. For one who is strategic, consistent, and driven, the ability to prioritize and invest in the right areas can bring a positive return whether you are an entrepreneur or not. Today, companies need employees to deliver value more than ever, and this is where managing your career like an entrepreneur can propel you forward.
The characteristics of an entrepreneur are not exclusive to those who have shrugged off the idea of working in a corporate environment, employees can leverage those same qualities to excel in their career, too. A business plan keeps an entrepreneur on track for achieving his or her goals, and likewise, a career plan can provide the check and balance you need to stay in alignment. Just as a business owner captures his/her strategy in a business plan, your career plan should outline your career goals and the approach for accomplishing them.
Being able to effectively express yourself (written and verbal) is paramount to "selling" your ideas and capabilities. Delivering presentations, proposals, and even project updates in an articulate, engaging, and informative way is the beginning of getting supporters for your work product. Knowing your audience is critical to being perceived favorably, and your content should be delivered in a manner that can be understood by everyone. If not careful, you may alienate some if the motivation is to demonstrate your "expertise". Make it a priority to find a training program for writing and/or public speaking to develop in this area.
The phrase "think outside the box" does not begin to scratch the surface of what it means to think critically about problems and proposed solutions. If "thinking outside the box" is a blue sky or blank canvas opportunity to brainstorm or problem solve, then critical thinking is the ability to observe, synthesize, evaluate, analyze, and reason the content, problem, or solution to meet the needs of not just self, but for the good of everyone involved. As businesses take a consumer-centric approach to products and services, more than ever critical thinking will be a valuable skill to have.
I know you've heard the phrase "fake it until you make it", and while this might work for some, the only way to generate real confidence is to know yourself and the content or subject area. Self-confidence comes when you take the necessary time to prepare for whatever it is you have to do. It is the assurance that you have what it takes, and have taken the time to delve into your area of focus with an unshakable determination to succeed. In addition to having knowledge of the subject and a solid performance, it can also help to wear attire that is congruent with what your audience will appreciate. Remember, you are always being observed, from up close and afar.
Having a good idea can become better when you collaborate and build allies to support you. Being able to collaborate effectively says you have the chops to build relationships, take constructive feedback, lead through ambiguity, and successfully deliver. Even more, collaboration can help you to develop the "thick skin" needed to shrug off disappointments and setbacks, pushing you to dismiss personal differences and seek out those who can truly help the cause.
Entrepreneurs take"calculated risks" often to grow their clientele. Along with calculated risk-taking you have to be courageous to take your plan to the next level. This is not only intellectually knowing you are making a sound decision, but also being brave about what you will encounter good and bad, and staying the course. It's important to note that having courage does not mean the absence of fear, but the fortitude to continue, not allowing fear to paralyze your plan.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or not, knowing your strengths, your value, and your audience is key. Like an executive summary in a business plan, having a solid professional summary that compels your clients or colleagues to seriously consider what you have to offer is how opportunities arrive at your door. As part of your career plan, strive to create a professional summary to reflect your experience, your strengths, and your niche. The goal is to illustrate your competitive advantage, matching your skills and experience to business opportunities to provide value. To accomplish this, you have to help people help you by demonstrating your capabilities and potential. The moral of this article: Think like an entrepreneur and take control of your career.
Stacey Rivers is an IT professional, mom, wife, and the author of the book "50 Essential Tips to Getting & Keeping The 'Right' Job". For more on career management, check out the Career Bluprint Magazine.