September 2015

Mind Your OWN Business

2015-09-30T09:37:30+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , |

You should be in business for yourself. We all should. I don’t mean quit your job and form a new company. I mean right now – at the job you are in – you should be in business for yourself.

You see, we manage ourselves differently when we’re self-employed versus working for a company.
When you ‘work for a company’ you rely on systems within the company to:

  • recognize the great work you do,
  • reward your achievements,
  • upgrade your salary when appropriate, and
  • promote you to a more challenging role.

I should also add…

  • Fire you when you’re no longer growing or adding value.

When you’re in business for yourself, as a freelancer you don’t have “systems.” You have you.

Many of us have learned, during the interview process, to interview the company just as much as they are interviewing you. But that is often where many of us stop managing ourselves.

Instead of thinking of them as your employer, see them as if you were a freelance worker – supplying projects and experience in exchange for compensation.

In business for yourself, you manage your own marketing mix. You manage your “Four P’s”

Product – You would seek out projects that appeal to you and/or provide experience. You provide the products and services based on your core strengths.

  • Instead of filling out the company forms and business templates, is there a better way to present and communicate information?
  • You set your own standards – hopefully higher and more critical than the company’s.

Price – You would negotiate your fee (compensation) based on the value you provide, versus being dictated by the annual percentage.

  • While human resources does outline guidelines, reality is, compensation rules can be broken. While a taboo subject – I’m sure you’ve heard stories and know others around you are making less and making more in the same job title. A freelancer manages this much different than the ’employee’ who is at the mercy of the system. I look to be paid for the value I provide versus simply a flat rate, hourly sum. (Caution, if you don’t perform well, this can work against you. You need to be good, not just independent).

Promotion – You manage your own advertising, sales promotion, publicity, and personal selling.

  • You may have a great boss who is into ‘personal development’ and helping you grow. More than likely they are motivated by their own measured goal of ‘people development’ versus the joy of helping you. (Don’t get me wrong… There are plenty of great bosses out there – but unless you work with your mom, there is no other person who cares about you as much as you.
  • Comping Yourself – You may get high marks from your boss during your performance review, but still lack challenge and opportunity. If you were a business you’d measure your comp scores – how you’re performing this year over last year. Are you growing? Do you have new opportunities? Are you better off than last year? If not, you can do something about it.

Placement – How you reach the the customers (your employer). What are your channels, geography, segments?

  • Instead of following standard company protocol and working within your department silo… In business for yourself, you gauge who, where, how, and when you deliver your messages. Networking, informal relationships, and looking at the broader horizon within the company offers more opportunity.

One of the most important benefits of being in business for yourself is knowing when to let a customer go. Most often we quit a job after an extended period of dead-ends, or perhaps to preempt being fired. If you’re not growing or ‘comping yourself’ you need to move on to a different role, or a different company.

Finally, I need to note… Being in business for yourself doesn’t mean being disloyal to the company you are doing business with… You are bound by the minimum performance and legal requirements as a typical employee.. But you are empowered with looking out for your best interest while supporting your employer’s interest.

Give it a try. You’ll find yourself energized and with power you didn’t even know you had. It feels much better to be the driver of your career rather than a passenger.

So, start minding your own business!

December 2014

“Comp Yourself” in 2015

2014-12-31T19:06:28+00:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , |

Happy New Year! It’s resolution season. How do you avoid the let-down of resolutions earnestly created in January that may not last until February? Instead of setting resolutions, I recommend a simple life philosophy that will stick. Comp Yourself.

Comp PerformanceThat’s it. That’s the entire philosophy.

Did I do better this year than I did last year?

For example, at work to measure my own comp performance, I would ask myself…

  • Did I contribute more?
  • Did I do a better job?
  • Did I take on more projects?
  • Did I add more value?
  • Did I learn more?
  • Did I get a promotion?
  • Did I get a pay increase?
  • Did I receive more praise?
  • Do people trust me more?
  • Did I get better feedback from peers?
  • Did I feel better about my skills?

This isn’t the official company performance appraisal, it is your own gauge. There were years, despite receiving excellent performance feedback from my boss (using the company review process), when using my own comp performance measures, I felt stagnant. What you consider “better” is entirely up to you.

When you feel you haven’t grown enough, put a plan together that will challenge you and push you where you want to be… Just like you would for an underperforming store location.

Hopefully this doesn’t feel too daunting. Improvement doesn’t necessarily require huge change. Alan Weiss, in his book Million Dollar Consulting, suggests the 1% Solution:

“Improve by 1% a day, and in just 70 days, you’re twice as good.”

Now, that’s an interesting and manageable approach.

“Comping yourself” is an idea a few of us came up with some years ago while working as marketers at Starbucks. We used comp performance to measure our stores, why not for ourselves?

Author and blogger John Moore documents how we practiced this philosophy in a chapter of his book “Tribal Knowledge: Business Wisdom Brewed from the Grounds of Starbucks Corporate Culture” In fact, he provides the entire chapter, Always Measure Your Comparable Job Performance on his blog for free.

Happy New Year!