As I look back at my professional career, I notice how remarkably I have changed since I became an entrepreneur. Apart from the crazy hours and the endless brainstorming that are now part of my life, the transformation has also made me think about how entrepreneurs approach things differently compared to professional executives.
If I were to go back in time to when I worked for a big multi-national, I would take a different approach to my work, using insights gained from my experiences as an entrepreneur to win in the corporate jungle.
1.Be more proactive
In the big bad world of corporates, rules are set, expectations are laid out and work is allocated. Often this breeds a reactive attitude and a work culture where people wait to be told what to do and then do what bosses ask. Instead what is immensely valuable but seldom explicitly mentioned is being proactive in offering support, feedback and anticipating issues. The most valuable employees think like entrepreneurs and plan for things ahead of time instead of merely following orders and doing their assigned bit.
The robotic-reactive approach to work also leads to loss of motivation and purpose. How often do you hear of executives who are bored, find no meaning and joy in their work and are looking for more challenges? It has partly to do with how they approach work, and partly with the culture of their teams and companies.
2.Think like an owner
When I go to restaurants, I can almost immediately tell if the person serving my table is the owner or an employee. The intention to serve customers so that they truly love your business and walk away delighted is palpable when it is the owner himself. If you can find an employee who behaves in the same way, never let him go!
In the corporate world too, if you think of yourself as an owner of the company, there will be a visible difference in your commitment towards the quality of products and services delivered. When you focus on making your customers happy, you become an asset to your company.
3.Keep your mind active and stimulated
One of the big issues I faced while working in a big company for a long time in a similar role was the mental rust that started to set in. My friends all seemed to be from the same industry and educational background. I began using only some of my mental muscles and grey matter. The rest started to atrophy, and if I hadnt been so conscious about it, would have quickly disappeared forever.
Playing brain games, reading books outside of your work and meeting people from completely different backgrounds and careers is what helped me. People can get complacent and too comfortable in their lives, but it is also the reason that they become unsuitable for other kinds of jobs.
4.Build your personal brand
Sadly, this valuable asset does not feature anywhere on the wish-lists of most professionals, except maybe the C-suite executives. Yet, this is one area that can have a profound long-term impact in achieving your career goals. Building your brand is all about perceptions. Success, promotions and recommendations often happen on the basis of the perception of your work, personality and contributions by your peers and superiors. A large part of that is controlled by you and you can consciously choose to display your best attributes.
When I was working in the Corporate world, I had never heard of personal branding. When I started my own company, I was forced to think of ways to differentiate myself and stand out from the crowd. Enter the concepts of personal branding and putting your best professional foot forward for all to see and remember. It has made a huge difference to me, and can do for you too.
5.Become a better public speaker
Warren Buffet says that this one skill alone can raise your value at work by almost 50%. I completely concur. As an entrepreneur and author, I am often asked to speak on public platforms. Although I have spoken on many occasions in the past, I now find that public speaking can have a dramatic effect on your perceived image and value. If you are a speaker, you command everybodys attention far more than anybody else present in the room. The mindshare can do wonders for your career and business prospects.
Many professionals need to make presentations or speak in small groups, yet there is little training provided in this area. Most of them just get by, often just by focusing on the content. Yet leaders and high-flyers are most often articulate people who can present and talk well in public. One easy way to develop this skill is by joining a Toastmasters club. The other way is to get a coach who can show you the nuances of being a good public speaker.
Recently, I met one of my ex-colleagues and he remarked how truly inspired he was by all that I was doing, and that he didnt know I was capable of so much when we worked together a few years back. Looking back, I can see why I was one among a few thousand people doing the same thing as everyone else in the company. I had the same employee mindset as everyone else. But in my heart I knew I was more capable than that. If youre reading this sitting in a corporate cubicle and feeling the same way, I hope I have given you some action-able ideas!
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What my ‘Entrepreneur’ self would tell my ‘Corporate’ self – Huffington Post
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