Contrary to the title of this post, this isn’t a Tony Danza tribute article. This is merely some quick insights I’ve drawn in my short time being an entrepreneur with several hypothetical questions strewn throughout.
What would it look like to treat every job you had as if you were the owner of that company? Imagine for a second that you just graduated college. You are in your first ever, entry-level position. Many of you have already been in this role but think back to that position. Did you blindly follow orders, or did you try to take ownership of that role? What would it look like to have an entire workforce for your company where entry level to CEOs acted in the best interest of the company? This may seem obvious, but many companies reward individuals for their efforts while preaching teamwork. This leads to cannibalism within the organization.
What do you do if you want to get ahead in any company? Start by doing something. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do to advance your career, find opportunities to get ahead on your own. You can seek guidance from your manager, but at the end of the day someone who colors within the lines isn’t the innovator that will move the company forward. Start to think of ways to improve your current position that challenge the status quo. You can clock in and clock out but if you want to get ahead take time to do research outside of your normal work hours. For those of you craving a sports metaphor, think of it as shooting extra free throws after practice. Or think of it as an investment in your future. The hours you put in outside the 9-5 will contribute to your next raise. This is the only thing preventing you from getting ahead. Some people learn quicker than others, but I have yet to see anyone who didn’t have the capacity to learn more. All it takes it time. Managers and coworkers will notice too, and you’ll gain credibility and trust.
Stop thinking about how to get your bonus. This may seem counter intuitive, but most companies are giving out bonuses for short-term gains. Picture yourself as the owner of the company. Think about a long-term timeline. What habits can you create to help improve the company in a year, in three years, in five years? Remember If a company doesn’t learn how to adapt to a moving market, their survival rate is zero on a long enough timeline. Start thinking ahead about how your company can capture an ever-changing market. Then start thinking about how your ideas could be implemented across your company. You need to have a strategic vision with tangible implementation.
If you are the owner or in upper level management, you need to be able to empower your employees. This means listening to suggestions, having patience with employees if they mess up and asking what they would do if they were in your shoes and encouraging them to find ways to improve their current position. If you are an entry level employee, you need to think strategically about how you can make yourself indispensable to the company. Where are opportunities for efficiencies? What can you do better than anyone else on your team? I’m writing about this because I worked for a company, for a boss, for an institution for several years. When I became an entrepreneur I still found myself waiting to hear someone say “Good, now do this.” As a member of a two-man company, the answer to “What do I do next?” is everything. We do everything, every day, always. How do I get ahead? I absorb information from those in the industry, I read, I listen to podcasts, and I study the industry I am a apart of, and even a couple of industries that I’m not in yet. Not to get ahead of my partner but so that our company be the most comprehensive two many team anyone has had the opportunity to work with.