I was reading an article by Tim Berry, founder of Bplans.com, a site that helps entrepreneurs develop business plans. The article is called, "3 Steps to the Startup Sweetspot," and it highlights the ways in which start-up companies get to the magic point of where the investments in their business start to pay off.
While reading, I realized his advice can be easily applied to our businesses-of-one. Every time we choose to embark on a new career path, we go into "start-up mode" - where decisions on how we choose to invest in the career will affect the results we get.
3 Steps To The Career Sweet Spot
Whether you are a new graduate just starting out in the workforce, or a seasoned professional looking for a change, these three steps apply to YOU:
1. The Plan
You need to pull the trigger and create a plan. Saying , "I plan to work," is not enough. You have to come up with an idea of what you want to accomplish. What do you want your career to look like? How will you make that happen? Some people go big, others keep it simple, but regardless of how ambitious you are, there still needs to be an organized plan for making your career goals a reality.
Now, if choosing a career path is too overwhelming, then pull back and identify what you want out of your next job. Get the list of must-haves, nice-to-haves, and don't wants in order and make sure the list isn't too long or unachievable. Reach out to mentors and get validation that your goals are attainable. Once you've got the list, you'll be able to move on to step #2.
We can help you with the planning stage.
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2. Funding Or No Funding
What we are really talking about here is whether or not to invest in some training or formal education. And, if the answer is "yes" - then how much? And, at what price? For example, these days, most professional jobs ask applicants to have a college degree. In fact, for years, there has been a much-quoted study that said people who get college degrees earn significantly more over their lifetimes and are less likely to live in poverty. Unfortunately, a 20/20 video segment
indicated the study wasn't all that accurate.
In fact, it now appears a lot of Americans have overpaid for their college educations and will never see the return on their investment. So, when choosing a career, you have to ask yourself, "What kind of degree (if any) should I get and what will be the long-term ramifications be if I don't get one?"
You should also decide if it's worth going into significant debt to attend a more expensive exclusive college, or if a more affordable degree at a local college will be enough. It's also important to ask that question of advanced degrees. I hear daily of people who are deciding to go back to school for a master's because they can't get a job right now and figure when the recession is over they'll have their advance degree and will get hired for more money.
Sadly, unless you are studying a very specific skill (i.e. engineering), that is not true. Experience still outweighs degrees in most corporate hiring decisions. In this case, more does not necessarily mean better.
3. Launch Or Revise
Sometimes, people invest in an education to support a career path only to realize they don't like the career after all. Or, perhaps they realize the career is so saturated with talent that they don't want to have to put in the effort it's going to take to get to the top of the profession. I regularly work with college students and recent grads who got a degree but didn't realize until senior year or shortly thereafter that the field they studied isn't a good fit for what they want.
So, what should you do?
Go get another degree?
Stay in the field and hope you can change later when you have some experience under you belt?
Or, try to work with what you've got and do a career path correction that doesn't require more money, but rather a slight reduction in pay in order to get a foot in the door of a new field?
The key is to not ignore the signs of dissatisfaction. Like a paper cut, the longer you ignore it and let it get dirty, the more likely it will get infected and become even more painful.
By the way, the above won't work unless you keep this in mind...
When using the three-step plan to find your career sweetspot, the most important thing to remember is this: No two people will have the same method for getting there. Prior to the recession, we had a lot of people on "career autopilot." We were going through the motions based on what people told us we needed to do to succeed. We chose professions based on what other people indicated were good choices and assumed it would guarantee us a happy life.
In short, when it came to careers, we were getting lazy. But these tough times are making us all get back into shape. It's time we all started paying closer attention to the way we build our careers. The goal? To develop skills that will make us professionally agile and keep us employable. Not every start-up succeeds, but any good serial entrepreneur will tell you it was their failures that taught them the most and helped them move on to greater success.
So, if you want to find your career sweetspot, start thinking like a business owner. It's time you got your career's business plan in order - the future of your professional success depends on it.
Your Next Step
School teaches you everything except how to get the job. You must invest time in learning the right way to job search.
I just finished four new training videos for you - they're all about executing an easier job search in this economy.
My videos are completely free and I'm confident you're going to find them useful. The link to access the first one is below.
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