Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneur’

What’s Your Professional Development Strategy?

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Fall treesThe most frequent responses I get to this question is #1 Strategy: keep getting a paycheck and hope to get promoted;#2 Strategy for Free Agents: Keep current contract(s) or get new clients.

I consider these non-strategies. Too many people approach learning something work-related as a task they have to do to keep their jobs or maintain a profession credential. They need an external incentive and are not motivated by curiosity or a desire to improve processes, services or products.

For those that enjoy keeping up with trends and new thinking for the sake of contributing to making their work better, they often:

  • Surf the net for bright shiny topics
  • Read blogs, take webinars that look interesting
  • Join professional associations, attend occasional gatherings
  • Actually participate in professional associations by not only attending, but also volunteering for projects or committees.


You COULD spend a few minutes to think about your long term work/career goals and what professional credentials or skills and competencies you need to keep up-to-date. Do you need to create or update your brand? Using this as a foundation, you can select and focus on those activities and opportunities that will give you the best bang for your buck.

“My profession doesn’t outline specific continuing education requirements. How do I do that?”  There are a couple of options:

Pay attention to the issues and trends that are driving business decisions for your organization and department. Cost-cutting will always be a factor, so look at how you and others could achieve organizational objectives faster, better, cheaper? New laws, regulations and technology changes tend to change the way things get done. What could you become the go-to person for? What interpersonal skills could you develop to improve your professional relationships in an increasingly diverse workforce? Check both the internal and external websites to see what your organization values. Many organizations have resources that outline career competencies and for creating your personal development plan to contribute to their highly competitive knowledge bank.

If you want to make a career change, map your steps to making that change and set up your support system to achieve it. Updating your resume will be a part of it, but first, you might have to do some research beyond surfing job boards. Identify required credentials or knowledge through job descriptions and taking with people in the roles. Use your social media to connect with others in that line of work for a reality check and advice and to stay on their radar when opportunities come up. Build your experience by volunteering.

Is time that you invest in yourself to enjoy a more rewarding career?

While You’re Unemployed…

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Jacqueline Smith has compiled a great Top 10-things-you-need-to-do-while-youre-unemployed I wanted to share with you.

If you do nine out of 10 of these, you won’t need to work for someone else!


Rallying the Trades

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

People on the TV program “Dirty Jobs”  look like they are having such a good time.  They get constant feedback all day  – cleaning a cement truck, picking up roadkill, catching bloodworms – so they know how they’re doing without having to be told. Did you know some of these people are millionaires?

As we continue to have soaring unemployment and too many people without employable skills, we must re-think what we value in work. We need to maintain the infrastructure to maintain and grow the lifestyle we expect. In each episode of “Dirty Jobs,” Mike Rowe reminds us, “They do the kinds of jobs that make civilized life available for the rest of us.”

Mike has set out to address the nation’s aversion to hard work, the steady decline in the trades and the skilled labor shortage that is crippling this country. “We have become disconnected from how things got made, focusing more on how things get bought.”   His website,, has partnered with other organizations to promote skilled labor in an attempt to fix what he calls “America’s dysfunctional relationship with work.”  Not only is this a wonderfully fun website, there are thousands of links to resources, apprenticeships and scholarships across the country. Check out an interview with Mike Rowe.  See his testimony in Congress.

21st Century Skills for Boomers

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Employers are managing costs by hiring people as contingent, temporary or project-based work. So they look to people who have both a breadth and depth of skills.

Boomers bring judgment and knowledge of how to get things done…especially when the computers are down.  But what Boomers may not have is the skills to be the most attractive contingent, or contract worker, to the employer. Much like being self-employed, the contingent candidate must have:

1) Excellent Customer Service Mindset and Skills.  As a contingent worker, your employer is your customer, as well as any of the internal functions and the service/product buying customers.  This comes through in how you respond, the initiative you take and how you resolve (or prevent) problems.

2) Contracting Savvy.  This is the business end of a good working relationship.  One key is to make explicit the expectations and boundaries without making demands.  Effective and good spirited negotiating and flexibility will help get the relationship off to a good start.  Determine who will be handling taxes (1099 or W-2?) and what company-provided perks are available to you.  Often they are very different than what employees have come to expect. ( Don’t assume you are invited to office social functions.)  It is up to you to have the required insurances and licenses.  Your state SBA or Tax/License offices can assist.

3) Courageous Communication. You must speak up to effectively provide feedback on meeting the expectations of your working relationship. Conversely, you must willingly receive feedback, no matter how badly it may be delivered, i.e., complaints, sarcasm, etc. Ask questions to clarify, not defend, then make the necessary corrections to stop, change, or start doing what’s needed from your Customer.

4) Time Management.  This is not only showing up on time and meeting deadlines, but also availability for handling the unexpected.  If you are juggling more than one project, it is ensuring that you’ve budgeted enough time that they don’t encroach on each other.

5) Integrity and Honesty. You are only as employable as your Customer trusts you.  Don’t skimp, take short cuts or do anything your employer can construe as unethical.  Be sure you know the workplace rules and policies. Then rise above the minimum expectation.

These things apply to many of the professions and 21st Labor needs. Whether you’re looking at the “hot” fields of  Health Care, Energy, Infra-Structure, Manufacturing, IT or Agriculture, boosting these skills can help you create and develop a stellar reputation.

More Boomers Starting Own Biz

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Reuter’s Wealth Blogger, Mark Miller, shared the statistics of Entrepreneurs age 55 to 64 now represent a rising share of start-up activity, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, accounting for 23 percent of new entrepreneurs in 2010, up from 14.5 percent in 1996. As this age group experiences the early buyouts, early retirement and layoffs, many are looking to become their own bosses.  Some people have juggled part-time activities for years and now take the steps to expand those interests.

This trend seems to be a combination both internal motivation and business economics.  Boomers are having difficulty finding new jobs because employers need a new skill sets that many don’t have.  Labor cost containments mean lower salaries in many sectors. When a company has to cut costs, the layoff is the jump-start that we need to move from our comfort zone of a stalled job. I know it was the bungee jump for me!  It becomes the opportunity to  following one’s dreams. Having built confidence and skills from previous employment, this transition offers us time and motivation to learn entrepreneurial skills.

Whether you join the ranks of contingent work force, contract your knowledge and skills to an organization, or hang out your shingle in a brand new field, its a powerful feeling to be your own boss. There are plenty of free and low-cost resources to stimulate this critical part of our economy. Start with your local (county) small business association. Participate in local business functions, such as professional organizations and your local chamber of commerce.  Be the Leader you always knew you could be.