27 September 2023

Mind your business: Why it’s time to take ownership of your career

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May Busch* says too many people leave their career direction in the hands of others — and that can be a very risky option.

When it comes to succeeding in your career, no one cares more than you do.

That’s why the person in charge of where your career is headed has to be you.

Yet so often, we take our direction from what we think we should be doing based on societal expectations, your employer, or family and friends.

Relying on others to lead the way can leave you far from where you want to be in your career and life.

So, if you’re treating your career as a series of escalators where you just have to follow the signs to head up to the top floor, then it’s time to change your approach.

Instead of leaving it to others to direct your career, the only way to be sure you have the career you want is to take ownership of it.

One way to do that is to think of your career as your business and you’re the founder and owner of that business.

Think of it as taking an entrepreneurial approach.

So, what do entrepreneurs do to grow a successful business and how can that inform your new approach to growing your career?

Here are three things that entrepreneurs do that you can adapt and create the successful career you want.

Invest: Whether it’s time, money, energy or all of the above, entrepreneurs invest in their business to make it grow.

They’re willing to invest resources so they can turn their vision into a reality.

Investing in your career ‘business’ is an investment in yourself.

That’s the surest investment you can make because an investment in yourself is never wasted.

It all goes into improving your capabilities, and when you invest wisely you’ll find ways to get a return.

For example, you could invest in training to polish your communication skills, join a mastermind group to stay accountable to your goals, or hire a coach to help you transition to your next role.

You could also focus on building your network of relationships so it’s there before you need it, or set aside time each month to think about your career strategy.

What investment would give you the best boost to your career prospects if you made it right now?

Experiment: Entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to try new things or new ways.

If it doesn’t work out as expected, they change course.

Every step is an opportunity to learn, grow and improve.

When it comes to your career business, think of a small experiment that would give you information about whether or not you’re on the right track.

It could be taking on a small project with a new unit before moving over full-time, mentoring a junior before you take responsibility for managing a team.

Or speaking at the team meeting before presenting to the Executive Committee.

Whatever it is, use experiments as a way to grow out of your comfort zone because that’s where the opportunities are.

Remember, doing nothing is also a strategy, but it’s often the riskiest one longer term.

What experiments could you do that would help you move your career forward?

Take Action: Most of the things you’re taught and trained to do involve attention to detail and avoiding risk.

When it comes to your career, the turtle analogy holds true — you won’t get anywhere unless you take some risk and stick your neck out.

Entrepreneurs don’t wait. They jump in and take action when they see an opportunity, even if it’s before they think they’re ready.

Some of the best opportunities are like when the sun and moon are in alignment. That is, not very often.

So, you have to jump on them, or you’ll miss them.

What have you been waiting for instead of jumping in and getting going?

How would it change your career direction and level of confidence if you behaved like the entrepreneur of your career and took action, even if it’s imperfect action?

Now that you’re in the business of growing your career, take a moment to envision the future you’d like to create. The direction you want to take.

Imagine yourself as the founder, owner, chief executive of your career.

Your career is what you make it.

Which of the three entrepreneurial moves would most move the needle for your career right now — investing, experimenting or taking action?

*May Busch’s mission is to help leaders and their organisations achieve their full potential. She can be contacted at [email protected].

This article first appeared on May’s blogsite.

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