When I stepped into a front desk role, I never imagined I would be an owner by age 25. I often get asked if I knew I wanted to be a business owner and entrepreneur. The truth is, I didn’t. It never occurred to me until much later in my career. I kept working hard and learning as much as I could, and everything was like a domino effect — one opportunity to the next. At some point, I realized that I was cut out to be a business owner, entrepreneur and leader. I’m deeply grateful for my experiences and proud of the hard work I put in, but I can’t stress this enough: I didn’t know it going in. I’m happy where I am and am continuing to learn, grow and excel.
So whether you’re in a front desk role or trying to scale up in your career, here are five tips that can help move your career in the right direction:
Get the Hard Stuff Done First
That’s right, cross it off before the clock strikes 9! Whatever it is that you want to put off, whether it’s responding to email or filing papers, do it first. This means once the stuff you detest is done, you get to do all the tasks that bring you joy.
Take ‘Massive Action’
What separates the go-getters from the not-so-go getters is massive action. What do I mean by massive action? If you don’t yet have a skill that would really benefit the job you’re doing or the job you want next, go out and develop that skill. If there’s research that would benefit the company that nobody’s doing — go do that research. It’s more than showing initiative. It’s all about actually doing the work that makes a difference for the business. Don’t let your fear or imposter syndrome keep you from greatness!
Never Stop Learning
Learning encompasses keeping up with business trends, technology, the actions of your competitor businesses and more. Teach yourself about nonviolent communication, empowering women-owned and women-run businesses, the hottest trends in benefits, how to retain employees and keep them happy – the learning opportunities are endless. Keep at it.
Become a Brand
Utilize social media to create a strong personal brand, and where appropriate, align it with your business. Personal branding is essentially the process of showcasing the kind of person you are and establishing a reliable and respected voice. Journalist Dan Rather and actress Melissa McCarthy both have strong personal brands, though they are quite different from each other. They’re also great examples because of their longevity. When Dan Rather came back into the public spotlight after he retired, his audience understood why, because his values and his voice demanded that he step back into the spotlight, in light of current events. You don’t have to think like Dan Rather or like Melissa McCarthy, but you can take a page (or eight) out of their personal branding books.
When I was 22, I sat on the board of a local HR organization. I built a relationship with one person in particular, but it didn’t occur to me at the time how valuable that relationship could become. When I left my job as a sales representative for a staffing firm to start my own company, she reached out and introduced me to another staffing firm that was interested in hiring me. She convinced me to meet with them, and because she was a trusted connection, I agreed. After three meetings with the staffing firm, we agreed I would come on board, and after a certain amount of revenue was generated by yours truly, I would become an owner of the firm.
Without that connection, Star Staffing would’ve never been on my radar and I wouldn’t have had the privilege of working alongside my partner and team. Relationships are essential, and you might not know which relationships will bear fruit in the long term. As long as the relationships aren’t unhealthy, cultivate all of them, and one or more or many will prove to be valuable in the long run.
Nobody gets a map when we appear in the world, no matter what philosophy or religion we follow. We’re all winging it a bit, especially in the beginning. But if we have measurable goals, we can make them attainable goals. Once they’re attainable goals, we can break them down into action and then tackle that action one day at a time. If you’re dreaming of that corner office, use these five actions to keep your eyes on your own prize.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.