Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Your Career --> Your Business

Your Career à Your Business


Tom Sheppard

“Individuals must manage their careers as a one-person business in an ever-changing environment.”
Dr. Edward Wakin

You cannot count on someone else looking out for your career.  Not your boss, not your spouse, not your parents, or your priest.  You are responsible for you.  And, if your career is going to the dogs, then it is up to you to put it back on track.  If your career is going fine, it is up to you to make sure it stays that way.  Any way you slice it, you must take charge of your career and make it move the direction you want it to go.

With the accelerating pace of mergers, layoffs, and technological change, it is increasingly important that you develop a comprehensive plan to keep your self and your career on track.  Without a plan, you will be like a ship on the sea without a map or a compass.  Likely to run aground on countless reefs and sandbars.

Thinking of yourself as running a one-person business is a great way to easily apply the lessons of the small business to your career.  Like you, small businesses must learn to survive and thrive in a fiercely competitive world.  This book will teach you how to apply some of the most powerful tools for successful small businesses to your own career.

Empowerment is a big buzzword these days, and has been for several years now.  Many people think it means making people do more work for the same or less pay.  What empowerment really means is working like you own the business.

In the age of empowerment, no one can safely hide behind the platitude, “it’s not my job.”  Everyone must do whatever it takes to get the job done, regardless of who is officially responsible.

Start managing your career like you would your own small business.

When you own a small business, you do whatever it takes to keep it running.  If the floor needs sweeping, you do it.  If the books need keeping, you do it.

If you don't know anything about running a small business, you can either learn about it from the owner of a small business, or you can go to a local business incubator and let them teach you.  Many community colleges have business incubators. They are often stocked with information and training as well as connections to mentors.

With just a little bit of effort, you can learn to apply nearly all small business management and marketing techniques to your career.

Develop your own business plan for your career.

What are the basic elements of a business plan? Most experts agree there are four basic parts to a business plan.
  1. Your Product
  2. Your Market (your customers)
  3. Your Competition
  4. Your Environment

Add to this, a detailed financial plan stating your needs and sources of funding and you have a robust plan to manage your career through the pitfalls of today's marketplace.

Your Product

Define Your Product, Your Company, and its Advantages. To do this, you must define what you can do for an employer, what kind of person you are, and what makes you stand out from the crowd.

We will break this into three parts: Your Product, You, and Your Uniqueness.

Your Product - What is it that you do for your employers?  What accomplishments can you point to?  Make a list, and be sure to list all accomplishments for all employers, no matter how long ago or for how short a period you worked for them.  You probably should include accomplishments outside of work also.

It may take you a few days to put together this list.  You may have to sort through your old files and memories and even renew some old acquaintances. List each accomplishment in as much detail as you can.  Try to answer the following question for each accomplishment you list:
  • How many people were affected?
  • How much time was saved by how many people?
  • How much money was saved per year?
  • How much revenue was generated?
  • What recognition was received?
  • What skills, knowledge, and abilities did you have to use to accomplish this?
Learn how to use this information to insure your career security
Tom Sheppard

If you cannot remember any or all of the answers to these questions, that is fine, list the accomplishment anyway.  When you start talking with your old chums from the company where you achieved it, they may be able to refresh your memory.  If all else fails, make a best guess estimate.

These accomplishments are your output, your product.  What goes into these is you.

Defining You - You are your company.  To define you, requires a thorough self-knowledge.  You must be able to take an honest inventory of both your strengths and your weaknesses.  The following paragraphs will help you do this.

Take a good look at all the skills, knowledge and abilities which you have used to achieve all the results you have already listed.  Make a list of all of these skills, knowledge and abilities.  These are your strengths.

Now, take a moment and think about projects or efforts you attempted which did not turn out as well as you would have liked.  Identify what skills, knowledge and abilities would have helped you to meet your expectations on those other efforts.  List each of these as an area for further development.

If your areas for further development significantly outnumber your strengths, then you have just identified another area of development - the way you talk to yourself.  I am not suggesting that we should lie to ourselves about our weaknesses.  What I am suggesting is that most of us are trained from a very young age to recognize and acknowledge our faults.  But, we are taught that to recognize our strengths is prideful and arrogant.

It is as important to honestly recognize our strengths as it is to honestly recognize our weaknesses.  If we inflate either one, we are deceiving ourselves and damaging our chances for success in living the abundant life.

When we have an accurate assessment of both our strengths and our weaknesses, we know our limitations and are more prepared to succeed in everything do.

Your Uniqueness - Knowing your accomplishments, your abilities, and your limitations you can now clearly define what value you can deliver to your current or prospective employer.

You can look at job listings and sit in interviews and respond with confidence that you are the best person for the job.  Then, you can proceed to list your accomplishments, knowledge, and skills which clearly show that you can deliver on your promises.

Your Market

Determine what is your market - 
  • What kind of jobs are you qualified for?  
  • What industries suit your interests and abilities?  
  • Where are these jobs and companies located?  Where are you willing to go, and what are you willing to do?  
  • How much do they pay people in these jobs and how does that break out in terms of levels of experience?
  • What is the typical career path for this type of work?  Does it dead end or continue to allow for advancement into higher levels?
When you have answered these questions, then you have laid the foundation to answer the two main questions in this part of your career plan.

Identify your customer - Your customer is the company (or companies) or client that might pay someone to do what you know you can deliver.  Identify who is the leading source of work and their market share.  Investigate each potential employer like you were planning to buy the company as an investment, because if you go to work there, you will be investing a significant part of yourself in that company.  You will be investing your skills, abilities, knowledge, and most importantly, your time.  Make sure the investment meets your criteria for potential returns.  You won’t be able to retrieve your time and efforts once you have put them into that company.

One of the other big things to consider in this section is how long will companies need this kind of work?  But that starts moving us into the Environment.

Your Competition

Identify your competition - What kind of people are you competing against for the work you do?  They are your competition.  Perhaps you know some of them by name.  More likely, you have an idea of what kind of qualifications they have.

Help wanted advertisements can often give an idea of what qualifications the employer wants.  But all too often they don’t really demonstrate the qualifications needed to get the job.

Why not?  Just thinking about the process the boss goes through to post a job reveals the answer.

Jane has worked in her position for five years when she moved on to another job.  During that time she has become a master of every task required.  That is why she moved on.  Her abilities exceeded what her boss could, or would, pay her for.  So, she found a better paying job and moved on.

Now, her boss sits at his desk filling out the job listing to post her job.  He thinks of Jane and all her talents and knowledge.  He lists all her abilities and skills and writes them into an impressive list of qualifications which the job candidate will see in the ad.  The boss sends this to the printer without ever considering that anyone who has all of Jane’s skills will be moving into a better paying job, just like Jane did.  They won’t settle for the pay he has budgeted when they have such an impressive skill set.

As the search for a replacement goes on, the boss realizes that his ideal candidate is Jane and he can’t afford anyone with her qualifications.  So, he settles for a strong candidate who has demonstrated that they can do some of what is needed, and is able to learn to do everything else that must be done.

Keeping your Career Insurance policy in force ensures that you are that person (for a full explanation of Career Insurance see the A+ Results book “Career Insurance: Learning to Stay Employed in Today’s World of

Find out what the competition looks like by following up with some of your potential customers.  Ask them about what qualifications the current people in the job have.  Ask them about minimum skill sets and knowledge.  Go to someone who currently employs people in your market (especially if they don’t have any openings at present), and enlist their aid.

Tell them that you are wanting to move into that market and you want to know what it takes.  If you make it clear that you are there for information, not a job interview, they will usually be happy to spill their guts to you.  They will list, in detail, the key things they look for in a potential employee.  You may be surprised that these key things are more often attitude than knowledge or specific degrees or achievements.

Now that you have used informational interviews and gained a clear idea of who and what the competition is, you can compare yourself against them.  Are there key areas you need to become stronger?  Are there areas where you leave them in your dust?

Start working on closing the gap wherever you are weaker.  And, when you go to an interview, focus attention on your strengths.
Learn how to use this information to insure your career security
Tom Sheppard


Your Environment

The last piece of your business/career plan it to consider what skills and knowledge are going to be needed both today and tomorrow.  

With the rapidly changing pace of the world today, you can learn what is needed tomorrow to do the work of your dreams and get ahead of the competition.

What are the trends in society that either decrease or strengthen the need for businesses to employ people with your skills?  Are those trends likely to continue or are they changing?  Are more companies going to need what you do, or is the need for what you do shrinking into just a few companies or industries?

Are there legal trends, lawsuits, emerging legislation or technology that could strengthen, reduce or redirect the need for what you do?  Will those factors require additional knowledge and skills for you to successfully continue to provide your product?

Looking at these different factors, you stand a good chance of figuring out what changes you need to make and how to position yourself so you can meet the emerging needs of employers almost before they realize they need what you can do for them.  This is one of the best things you can do to keep your products desirable to your customers.

Your Financial Plan

Identify your revenue (and lifestyle) goals, when you will achieve them and how.

To do this with any degree of realism, you need to have answered many of the questions posed above.  If you are wanting to make $100,000 per year, but the average pay for what you do is $40,000 per year, then you either need to do something else, or figure out a way to convince your market that the value you can deliver to them far exceeds $100,000 per year and they are getting a bargain by hiring you.  Of course, you also have to help them see that they won't get that value by hiring two or three other people with your skill set for $30,000 each.

My Experience
I have seen a number of people go into business for themselves thinking that if they just charge $25 per hour they can earn $52,000 per year and do great!  If you are currently earning about $25,000 per year or less, then things will be fine.  However, if you are earning more than $25,000 per year, things are not going to be so peachy.

What most people forget is that benefits such as paid vacation, sick leave, holidays, health and life insurance, and retirement plans are all a part of a person’s total compensation package, and are not free.  In contracting, a common rule of thumb is to use $100,000 to estimate the full cost of having one professional work for a full year.  This figure only allows for the professional to be paid approximately $50,000 in wages during that year.  The rest goes into paying for benefits and other costs of doing business (For more information on this see the A+ Results book, “Have Fun and Save Money: Start Your Own Business).

Write down specific dollar figures that you want to be earning by certain points in your life.  Don’t forget to include what benefits and retirement options you want to have available, or how much more you must earn to pay for them yourself.  The trade off between wages and benefits is very real, and you ignore it at your peril (for a full discussion of goal setting see the A+ Results book “Come Out On Top: Goals To Live By”).

Set realistic, attainable, and desirable goals for your future.  Remember, the only way you are going to get paid $500,000 per year for emptying trash cans is if you own the company.  So, be prepared to do what it takes to make your goals come true.

This is the business plan which the entrepreneur uses to get people to invest money in their company.  For you, this will be your plan for attaining and enjoying the abundant life you want.  It will be your career plan.

An unwritten goal is just a wish.

Put it all in writing. Ink it, don’t just think it.

Learn how to use this information to insure your career security
Tom Sheppard


Your Mental Board of Directors - The FIST Factor

In the 1950's author Napoleon Hill uncovered one of the secrets of success of such industry kingpins as Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie.  He called it a “Mastermind Group.” And, he encouraged everyone who wanted to succeed to put together their own mastermind group.

A mastermind group is a small group of people who are very good at what they do.  Their skills are each different and complementary.  Together, they help you to overcome any obstacle.

Today, author and speaker Jeff Magee promotes what he calls the Fist Factor, your mental board of directors. He advocates that you deliberately think about several people who are, or have been, influential in your life.  These are the people whose voices you hear when you think about doing great things.

Unfortunately, some of the influential people in your life are negative influences.  They are the ones who you hear say, “You can’t do that!”  Or “You’re too stupid.” Or any number of other degrading or negative remarks which rob you of your energy and your belief in your ability to achieve what you want.  These directors need to be fired and replaced with competent, successful people who you know who will build you up and give you the positive guidance you need.

A board of directors helps guide a business.  It brings together advice from a variety of areas of expertise and helps the company to move forward through its advice.  This mental board of directors, comprised of people you actually know, will likewise help you to achieve your goals.  Think of them and ask yourself, “What would my board advise me to do?”

If your board members are anywhere you can meet with them, then do so.  If you meet them and tell them what you are trying to do and that you would like their advice, you have done two things to help yourself: You have obtained their advice, and you have enlisted their help. Most people who know you value their opinion will try their best to give you sound advice and to help you succeed. You can have your own board of directors for your one-person business.

To help people remember, Jeff Magee calls this the "Fist Factor" because he recommends that you have five types of people on your mental board of directors (one for each finger on your hand):
  1. A family member such as a spouse, sibling, or parent.
  2. A professional colleague who is familiar with the kind of work you do.
  3. The most successful person you know.
  4. A good friend.
  5. An underdog, someone who has had all the bad breaks yet still manages to come up smiling and ends up on top.
Putting these five types of people on your board of directors will give you the kind of well-rounded advice you need to keep your goals in the clouds and your feet on the ground.

Of course, a requirement for all of these five people is that they believe in you.  If they are telling you that you cannot succeed, then you need to fire them.   On the other hand, if they tell you that you won't succeed unless you take this action or that action, then they are probably good advisors.

The most import part is to Get Started

When you delay starting to work on your goals, you are not putting off hard work.  Instead, you are delaying the time when you can enjoy the benefits of your goals.

Regardless of how lofty or low you set your sights, you must start with a single step.  And follow each step with another.  By defining the steps you must take to attain your goals, you relieve yourself of the burden of resetting your goals every day.

“A step at a time is good walking.” 
Ancient Chinese Proverb

Set your goals, define your plan, and act on your plan
(For a full explanation of how to set and attain goals see the A+ Results book “Come Out On Top! Goals to Live By”).

As Stephen R. Covey teaches in "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", you need to start with the end in mind.

Seeing the end of your efforts, envisioning the results before they are achieved, is an ancient and true principle.  It religion, it is called faith - the belief or assurance of something which is not seen, but which is true.

Let’s set aside the religious implications of faith for a moment and instead of talking about faith in God or faith in man, let us discuss faith itself, what it is and how it affects us.

It is important that every person realize that first of all, faith is the motivating force in every rational being.  Why would the farmer plant his crops if he did not have some assurance that he would be able to harvest them?  Why the laborer go to work if they did not believe they would get paid for their efforts?  In fact, why would anyone get out of bed in the morning if they did not believe that they could do so?  Would you bother with a light switch if you did not believe that the lights would come on?

Your faith that you can achieve something is essential to its attainment.

“If you can believe it, you can achieve it.”

After understanding that faith the principle of action in all rational beings the second thing to realize about faith is that it is also a principle of power.

Scientists tell us that humans use less than 10% of our mind.  Given the marvelous things that mankind has achieved just using 10% or less, think of the potential achievements if we can bring that other 90% of our mind to bear on our tasks.

Our subconscious mind accepts whatever our conscious mind feeds to it.  If we tell ourselves we are a failure, the subconscious believes it and transmits that signal to our every fiber, making it true. It even will marshal the hidden powers of our intellect to make it come true. If we tell our subconscious that we feel great, it transmits that message too, making it true.

But beyond the role of transmitter, our subconscious is a vast dark pool of resources which we can tap, but only indirectly.  When we present our mind with a problem, and turn it over to our subconscious, sooner or later it will present us with a solution to the very problem we have given it.  If we give it an obstacle to our progress, and the belief that the obstacle can be overcome, it will provide us with marvelous, and highly effective ways to overcome the obstacle. 

By telling our subconscious that a goal is attainable, we bring our whole being, conscious and subconscious, to bear on overcoming every obstacle to attain that goal.  Thus, we see that our faith brings power to bear and impels us to attain what we can see in our mind’s eye.

Faith is the motivating principle in all rational beings and it is a principle of power.
“Chance favors the prepared mind.”
 Louis Pasteur     

The Bible says “Faith without works is dead.”  This is absolutely true when it comes to attaining your goals. You can use your eye of faith to see yourself attaining your goals, but if you do not work to make your dreams come true, they will always be just day dreams. Work is the key to turning your plans into reality and your dreams into achievements.

Even Cinderella taught herself how to dance properly while wearing rags and covered in soot.  Then when her fairy godmother gave her a break, she was able to take advantage of it.

Work is an important part of life.  We define ourselves by our work.  The feeling of having earned what you have is essential to your ability to enjoy what you have earned.

You are responsible for your own happiness and success.

There is no one else who can make you unhappy or happy.  No one can bestow success upon you.  You must make the choice to be happy regardless of your circumstances.  You must make the choice; program your subconscious mind, to be successful.
Learn how to use this information to insure your career security
Tom Sheppard

Topics Related to This Post  
Goal Setting

Books Related To This Post:
Goal Setting: 13 Secrets of World Class Achievers by Vic Johnson
SMART Goals: The Ultimate Goal Setting Guide by Jacob Gudger
How To Set Goals: Your Goal Setting Bible For Maximum Personal Achievement (Goal Setting Success Series) by Darrin Wiggins
How To Set Goals: Ultimate Goal Setting Guide to Having Your Best Year Ever by Craig Ballantyne
Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want -- Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible by Brian Tracy
Strategic Planning for Very Small Businesses: Using Big Business Tools to Get Big Results for Small Business, Real Estate Entrepreneurs' Edition by Tom Sheppard

The Home Finders blog was created by ADB Properties and The Gold Seal Homes Group to provide a resource for people in the greater Charlotte, NC area to find peace of mind through quality, affordable homes. This blog features properties that are currently available to rent or buy from affiliates of The Gold Seal Homes Group ( All affiliates of The Gold Seal Homes Group agree to abide by high ethical standards and certain operating procedures that make it easy for people to do business with all affiliates.

© Copyright 2013 by Thomas K Sheppard
All rights reserved.  No part of this document may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the author.

1 comment:

  1. This is a jackpot that builds up over time after which pays out a giant sum of cash to a single player. Most on-line slots casinos offerprogressive jackpotslots so it is worth a watch on|maintaining a tally of|keeping observe of} the jackpot total and how regularly the game 정카지노 pays out. Most on-line slots casinos supply progressive jackpot slots so it is worth a watch on|maintaining a tally of|keeping observe of} the jackpot total and how regularly the game pays out.