What Kind of Employee Will Always Have a Job? An Entrepreneur.
Wait, isn't an entrepreneur kind of the opposite of being an employee? No, that's not the definition of entrepreneur I'm talking about. My favorite definition of the word "entrepreneur" is someone who moves an asset from an area of lower utility to an area of higher utility. In other words, someone who makes things better, or adds value.
You don't have to start or own a business to do this, although running a business will quickly teach you why adding value is the most important thing you can screen for in potential hires. Running a business will also show you why, without the ability to add value, there is no such thing for you as job stability. Experiences I had 15 years ago drove this lesson home.
Back around 2000, when I was a college student, I wanted to work for a big tech company such as Microsoft, Dell or Intel. Those were the hot companies back then, and I thought the work would be exciting and rewarding. I also thought working at one of those companies would be safe and stable.
But by the time I graduated in 2002, I had given in to the siren song of business ownership and had my own company based in Provo, Utah. I had also just lived through the dot-com crash. It wasn't the implosion of all those startups that changed my mind about job stability. It was what I saw happening at another company based in Provo called Novell.
Novell was "The Big Company" in Utah at the time. Novell had a billion dollars in cash on hand, a huge campus and everyone "knew" that Novell was a big, established company that would be around for the long term. My company didn't do anything that Novell did, and whereas they had thousands of employees I only had a handful, but we still competed against each other for talent.
Time and again, I would try to hire someone only to see them reject my offer to go work at Novell. The reason was almost always the same -- stability.
But then a funny thing would happen. Novell would have layoffs, and the person who had rejected my offer would be out of work. The stability they thought they would find at the larger company didn't exist. It was an illusion. Job stability isn't based on working for a certain type of company, or in a certain industry.
Some of these people who were let go from Novell quickly found new work. Others struggled. One key difference to finding new employment fast was the ability to add value -- and show it.
I've interviewed and hired scores of individuals, and while there are lot of qualities I value highly such as integrity, kindness and hustle, I cannot hire or continue to pay an employee who doesn't add value. The converse is also true -- I can't afford not to hire someone who I know will add value.
For example, if you applied for an open position at my company, but you couldn't convince me that my business was going to profit by hiring you, then you wouldn't get the job. I'm all about charity, but I have better ways to do it than handing out jobs to people who don't add value to my business.
On the other hand, if you were to approach me with a plan to help my business increase profits by 10 percent during the next 12 months, and it would only cost me 1 percent of those profits to do so, I would hire you on the spot. It could be for a position I've never even considered creating. You might not have a college degree. You might not have any certifications. You might be light on experience. But if you can present me with a convincing case about how you can add substantial value in my company, I will take you seriously.
This is why I'm keen to hire people who have an entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs seem to be naturals at adding value. They can't help but look around them and think "There's a better way." I need people who are constantly saying that, because if an employee only does what I tell them to do, my company is going to lose to the competitor who hires proactive team members.
Related: Hello, Entrepreneur. You Are a Hero.
When an entrepreneur loses his job or ends up in a job he hates, he's never stuck for long. The entrepreneur knows that if his dream job isn't being advertised, he can create it. Here's how you can do it:
1. Identify the type of job you want.
Choose the type of work, what the job description looks like, what the working environment is, and a compensation package.
2. Identify the company you want to work for.
This company may or may not have an open position for a job like the one you've identified, but if they don't then you can see that they need one.
3. Identify an opportunity to add value at this company.
If you were thinking of starting a new business, this would be "the idea." You're just doing the same thing but within an existing business.
4. Create a written plan as to how you would deliver this value.
Put together spreadsheets, tables, charts, a presentation -- you may never show them to anyone else, but it will be helpful for you.
5. Contact the right person.
Find the person at the company who would be interested in your plan, and customize it for them.
6. Get a meeting to present your plan.
This presentation may be a two-minute conversation, or a two-hour presentation in a board room. Be prepared for both.
Before going all the way to the sixth step, you may want to sit down for a few minutes with the person you plan to pitch and let them know about your plan and get their input. A few minutes early on could give you valuable insights into what challenges that person faces and what they value.
It's rare that anyone is this proactive. That's why going through these steps will make you stand out. You have very little to lose other than a few hours of your time. Even if your plan isn't the right fit at this time, it shows intelligence, creativity and initiative, and you'll be on the radar. By following these steps or some variation of them, almost anyone can create their own dream job at virtually any organization.
Have you ever created the job you wanted, or seen someone else do it? Share your story in the comments section below.
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