If you’re employed by an organization that you don't own, can you still be an entrepreneur? Sure, we tend to look at entrepreneurs as company owners or founders, not the people who might work for them. But that’s not completely accurate. The truth is, all employees can be entrepreneurs, too. Most don’t realize it and because of that, few have the keys to ignite their career.
That’s why the latest Gallup State of The American Workplace report shows that “70 percent of U.S. workers are not engaged or actively disengaged at work.” Some blame the economy. Some blame employer’s apathy or disregard for employees. Some blame a problem with overall culture among U.S. companies.
I blame the employee.
Who do you think is more fulfilled in life: the person who works for herself or the person who works for other people? You actually ALWAYS work for yourself -- to support your family and to meet your other goals. In this way, you are already your own boss. So, why wouldn’t you operate your career in the best possible way to make the most money you can while also achieving personal and professional satisfaction and while also making a difference or having a sense of belonging? Whatever your reasons are for working, you work for yourself. So why not start acting like you do?
So what does it really mean to be an entrepreneur? How can you really be one even if you’re not self-employed? I argue that you not only can, but that you should! (And if you read my work regularly, you know that there are very few things I tell people they "should" do.) To succeed today, being an entrepreneur is a requirement, regardless of your employment situation. The workforce has changed and it’s time to evolve with it. No longer is it acceptable for employees to sit back comfortably waiting to move up the corporate ladder because of seniority. No longer do employers promise a job for life, and, if they do, few can deliver. No longer will you as an employee have one job for life.
The word "entrepreneur" has undergone a lot of changes, and we've created a range of new words based on it. You can be an Intrapreneur, Solopreneur, Mompreneur, Technopreneur -- the list goes on. My own business brand is part of this, The Occupreneur Coach. All of those names share more than just "preneur" in common. They all carry with them some sense of ownership. And this is why you can't let working for someone else be an impediment to truly owning your career.
So, what's the best approach to be entrepreneurial in your career? First off, recognize that you actually are a “preneur” of some sorts. How well you are operating as such will determine how successful you are (or aren’t) in your career. You must recognize this and then make a decision that you are going to own your career starting today until the day you retire.
Next, get it out of your head that your boss calls all the shots. That’s the biggest excuse I hear from clients. I actually love hearing that because it’s the first place I like to go with clients who are wondering why they hate their jobs. Start to think like a business owner, not a drone.
Now it’s time to change your approach. Start to act like an entrepreneur—someone who is clear about what product they provide, who their clients are, what their time is worth, how their product is better than the competition, who the competition is, what makes them competition. Then spend some time making a marketing plan. Start by assessing how you market yourself now, both within your current company and to the outside world. Then decide where changes can be made. Observe those you see as more successful than you to give you ideas for improvement.
This is an ongoing process that requires your constant attention but it's necessary if you want to be competitive and successful in today's workplace. Since it starts with your attitude, it shouldn’t feel like work and it will make your daily grind feel less like a grind and more fulfilling and enjoyable. So have fun with it!