Saturday, March 24, 2012

Be The Entrepreneur of Yourself

The world has changed.  My grandfather came to the United States at a young age, with a young son (my father) and he went to work in the Brooklyn shipping yard of an industrial pipe manufacturer.  He stayed with that same company for his entire career, a lifetime, working his way through the ranks from physical labor, to sales, to management, to the proverbial gold watch at retirement (in his case, semi-retirement... I come from a long line of workaholics.)  

There Is No Such Thing As Job Security.

What was a relatively common experience for my grandfather - spending a career at one company - is virtually unheard of today.  The notion of "job security" simply does not exist anymore at any level, from the "C-suite" on down.  Today, the best job security one can have is to not need job security.  Today you truly need to be an entrepreneur.  You need to be the entrepreneur of yourself.  You are the startup.  These are the lessons I am trying to practice myself,* and instill upon my kids, all in their 20's.  This is their world.

The Startup is YOU.

Being the entrepreneur of yourself does not mean you can't be working as an employee for someone else's company.  It does mean that you approach being an employee the way you would approach starting a business.  YOU are the business.  Your current product is the job you hold, and your mission is to attack that job as if it is your company, so that you can produce the best product possible - your work, and your work ethic.  Like a startup, you want to grow your business (yourself) and improve, and learn, perform well and grow a customer base of people who respect, rely upon, and value your product (you).

Be The Product.

When you are the product, and the product is simply awesome, your customers will stick with you. It is no different than with a company.  Apple customers buy every new product Apple makes because their products are great.  Your customers - your co-workers, employers, people you do business with, people you encounter online and off - will support your product - you - no matter what you are doing or where you are working, if your product is always awesome.

Stay Focused, But Plant Seeds.

As the entrepreneur of yourself, you need to stay focused on the product, but also remain aware of the marketplace.  Being awesome at your current job (current product) doesn't mean you can't also have a product roadmap for the future.  You need to.  To prepare your startup (you) to become a sustainable business, you need to have an eye on the future. You need to be aware of other products (opportunities) that may fit into your longer term plan, and you need to plant the seeds (reputation, relationships, resourcefulness) that will leave you prepared to roll out new products (changing a job, starting a new venture) when the market is ready.

I firmly believe that being the entrepreneur of yourself is the best way to take control of your own work destiny, so you can be ready to create your own opportunities within or without your current job.

Do you agree?  Are you the entrepreneur of yourself?

(* In an attempt to practice what I preach, I recently updated my own product and changed my role from a full-time employee to that of a consultant in order to pursue additional opportunities including Social Object Factory. More on that soon...)

Photo Credit: © Konstantin Li -

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