So You Think You’re Not an Entrepreneur? Think Again!

I worked for a few years for the CEO of a small start-up. I had left a company where I was employee number 4786, and joined this company where, if we’d had numbers, I would have been number eleven.

Every Monday morning I would be sitting in my office when the CEO would walk by on the way to his office, and say, “Oh, Bud! Good morning! Join me, won’t you?” Whereupon I would dutifully make the trek to his office, and sit for the next two and a half hours, while he regaled me with the many ideas (some good, some not so good) he had come up with over the weekend to improve the company and/or it’s business.

After a few Monday mornings like that, I concluded that I could never be an entrepreneur, because I spent my weekends avoiding thinking about work, and this guy never stopped!

Little did I know then that, when it’s your company, you always think about how to improve it, for at least 18 hours per day, every day of your life, whether you feel like an entrepreneur or not.

What does this have to do with your career as an employee? A lot!

Back in the day (not sure when that was, but before my time), corporate managers allegedly considered their employees to be a great asset, perhaps their best. So, when they started laying people off, you knew that they were taking the situation very seriously. You don’t get rid of a great asset, unless it’s an absolute necessity, so they must be serious.

Fast forward to the 1980s, replete with leveraged buyouts onshore and the Japanese eating our manufacturing lunch offshore, and lots of people were getting laid off. Wall Street noticed this, determined that management must be serious, and invested in these companies. Stock prices went up! This lesson was not lost on corporate management, and now, laying people off is the first thing management considers when times are hard. Stock prices go up.

The bottom line? Your bosses are working late into the night, searching for a way to do business without you, because they no longer think of you as a great asset, they think of you foremost as an expense (see my blog post “What are you worth?”). I had a client who had a friend, a sales director for a division of a Fortune 500 company. Although in six months this guy had achieved his quota two times over, he was laid off because “we’re not doing that anymore.” Did they try to find another place to use this star? Nope.

What all this means is that you must think like—or be—an entrepreneur. You are the head of your own company—You, Inc. You may only have one client at a time, but you need to always be thinking about how you can advance your company, provide better service to that client. If you’re thinking of your client as “the man” or “the suits,” you’re just asking to get whacked.

How can you help your client succeed? What does your client need that you can supply? What else do you have in your skill set that your client can use? What have you done lately to help your client? Does your client know it? This requires a totally different mindset than thinking of the people who pay you as your employer!

At this point you may want to read my post, “Track 5 Simple Things to Achieve INSANE Career Success.” It will show you how to manage You, Inc. in such a way as to always be able to talk about what you’ve done, always be ready to find a new client, always know where your next gig is coming from.

Always remember, a career is the best use of your skills today.