Monday, December 26, 2011

Are you an on-the-job entrepreneur?

It's happy Monday, the week before Thanksgiving week when (in the student-universe known as college) all but the copy machine shuts down. Monday and Tuesday are like long countdowns until Time to Go Home, and by home, everyone means someone else's place, which if lucky, smells better and has food options that don't include Red Bull and trail mix.

As faculty, I'd rather skip Thanksgiving and go straight to the end. I'm on a roll. Finally. I got my research/writing schedule tweaked, I've helped students pick spring classes, and I've finished some committee work. It's my turn, and I don't want to stop to make pumpkin pies.

Not that I don't like pumpkin pie and not that I'm not going to pause right now and try the pumpkin muffins I made this weekend while testing the recipe. But, while I'm pausing, I need to make a list of things to do to get me to the end of the year without losing complete focus of my goals.
A friend of mine was hired to do a temp job for six months. A decade later, she finally left the company because the company was closing its doors. The reason she flourished in this job was that she didn’t see it as the job description printed in the newspaper.

She became an on-the-job entrepreneur.

On-the-job entrepreneurs see the job description as a starting point, and as soon as they get the hang of doing that job, they begin to look around at expanding the services they can offer.

My friend was supposed to analyze documents, but then she suggested that she take on a research project. As the only one calling up to volunteer, she got the assignment. When she excelled at it, research became a new service she could offer her employers, who she viewed as clients.

She networked within the company to let people know she was interested in working, learning new skills, and staying engaged in company business. She got what she asked for: work. While she watched others leave or get laid off, her job got more secure.

Thinking like an entrepreneur forces you to rethink how you do your job or run your business. What are the responsibilities or services you offer? Where can you add value? Every time you define a skill, a task, or improve your service, you are building your personal brand and identity at work. In the current economy, you are making known to your company and in your mind your exact value. If you have to search for a new job, you’ll know exactly how to sell your services.

And if you’re offering services, what is your marketing plan? Are you able to describe what you do or what you can offer in a few words or a sentence? Do you look for opportunities to volunteer for new assignments? What if you took your services to a new company? Does your resume reflect what you offer?
Stop right now and make a list of three "services" you offer at work. Do you do them well? Are you the best at those jobs? If not, will you change?

By changing your perspective from employee to entrepreneur, you can become more precise about how you approach your work, how to make your “clients” happy, and how to grow your “business” (career).
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