March 22, 2022 by John Cunningham
No matter what kind of work you do, you are working for yourself. One day you may wake up and discover that your company is letting you go, your big freelance clients suddenly went out of business, or the social media account where you communicate with customers has blocked you for breaking one of their antiquated rules. Ultimately, you need to be responsible to yourself (and your family). Consider being the CEO of your career.
Being the CEO of your career means that you think of your professional life with passion and vision. You consider your revenue streams as customers. And become more strategic about managing your career: not so that you build an attractive resume, but to do work that aligns with your mission and values. Here are four ways to do that:
Entrepreneurs and executives alike have a vision of what their companies stand for and what they want them to become. They make decisions based not just on the immediate but also with an eye on the future.
Consider where you want your career or business to be 3-5 years from now. Then make a plan to get there. You will probably not follow that plan to the letter, but it will help you stay focused.
As the leader of your organization, you should have a mission and driving values that are the essence of why you do the work you do. If you have a company, these are the seeds of your corporate culture. As an individual, we call this integrity. Staying true to this vision will make others want to follow you.
You don’t need to be a genius or a visionary, or even a college graduate for that matter, to be successful. You just need framework and a dream.
Michael Dell, CEO of DELL
There is always someone else impacted by your work: your family, customers, boss, and colleagues. Understanding how you can meet their expectations and put forth your best effort while serving them is vital to achieving continued success. If you are not sure of your stakeholder’s expectations, ask.
Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, made the goal-setting technique V2MOM popular in his book Behind the Cloud. This model for measuring success can help you focus on growth.
As a teacher, I started planning lessons with the end in mind. At the end of the lesson, I wanted my students to be able to achieve X. Then worked the process backwards to the very start of the class where I chose an exercise that allowed me to evaluate their ability to achieve the target. Then, followed the adjusted plan for the remaining time.
Your choice of method is much the same. You know the goal. What do you need to do to achieve that? Once you understand that, the other pieces fall into place: What are the pitfalls you may experience (obstacles), and how do you know if you are making progress (measure)?
A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.
Obstacles are the things that get in the way of your success. Do you need to work another job while you develop your passion? Are there too many applicants for the job you want? Is the cost of advertising or sales too high? Considering the roadblock to your success and coming up with some alternatives to break through those will improve your chances of success.
Finally, measures – you need to have some way to measure your success. Choosing effective measurement metrics will help you realize early on if you are moving in the right direction. Then, aid your ability to navigate effectively into the future.
When choosing your measurement metrics and evaluating your initial data, take the time to study the results and consider if you are measuring the right things. Do the results of your metrics equate to the success you hope to achieve?
An example of this I recently encountered was in running Google Ads. My impressions and click-throughs looked impressive until I realized that people from 18-24 were being served up the ad impressions. No wonder they were not converting to my goal of booking free consultations. I adjusted my campaigns to reach people from 30-60, and now I am attracting the right prospects.
Focus on the areas where you make the biggest impact. As solopreneurs, we often need to do everything. Regardless of if you are a company of one, an employee, or a business owner; it is vital to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Then, delegate, as much as possible, the things that someone else could do faster and better.
In a company, we may ask someone who is skilled at making pivot tables to do that for us while we turn the draft of their report into a clear and well laid-out document. When we work for ourselves, it may be better to pay someone else to do the work that is not in our skillset. Then, we can focus on more valuable work.
By thinking like a CEO, you will improve the way you look at your work, no matter what it is or your position in an organization. You will make better decisions about how to grow your skill sets and live a life of value. It does not matter if you are the manager of a big company, an individual contributor, or a solopreneur; taking control of your professional life will enhance the value you provide to your stakeholders. And that will ultimately enhance your level of success.