Three Secrets Of Entrepreneurship That Will Transform Your CareerDec 21, 2012
It’s no secret that “career” doesn’t mean the same thing today that it did a generation ago. Generous pensions, retirement parties and company watches are a thing of the past and job-hopping every few years has become the norm. But what does the shifting economy and tightening job market really mean for the success prospects of Millennials?
According to Mark Hopkins, VC and author of Shortcut to Prosperity: 10 Entrepreneurial Habits and a Roadmap for an Exceptional Career which hit shelves January 1, the changing employment landscape means that every one of us—from the mailroom to the mid-level managers–is in need of an entrepreneurship reality check.
“For someone in their first or second job, it’s not unusual to be questioning what you’re doing, where your path is headed or what success and prosperity even means for you,” he says. “Personal entrepreneurship is the answer.” For anyone embarking on their career, entrepreneurial examples are instructive, he says—these risk-takers live and breathe risk in the relentless pursuit of success.
But Hopkins’ message isn’t for American youth to quit their jobs and strike out on their own en masse. Instead, he’s sharing the trade secrets of some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs—their most ingrained habits and thought-processes—that he says everyone can make a part of their playbook for success.
Secret No. 1: Find Your Field Of Play
Success, in entrepreneurship as in career-climbing, depends on identifying and making the most of opportunities. From Hopkins’ standpoint identifying the end-game is the first in many steps towards those opportunities and, ultimately, prosperity. Entrepreneurs excel in this area: they benefit from single-minded commitment to their projects and ideas and unshakable passion for fulfilling their dreams.
Seth Godin, the marketing evangelist and guru to a generation of entrepreneurs, says, “The universal truth is beyond question—the only people who excel are those who have decided to do so.” Entrepreneurs, Hopkins says, have made that decision in spades.
For those of us still in the career trenches, though, deciding on success requires that we fully understand not just what we’re passionate about, but where our skills lie—and ultimately in identifying what Hopkins calls a “personal vision” for success. “It takes a lot of soul-searching to identify what you’re truly passionate about,” he says. Some benefit from journaling, others from simply following their natural curiosity. Whatever the method, identifying your unique passions and vision for success in your career, he says, is absolutely imperative.
Why? Because once the vision of your ideal future is established—whether it’s the C-suite or creative control or just a massive paycheck—something quite powerful takes place. Hopkins calls it creative tension. Once you identify where you want to be in your career (your end game) a natural tension occurs between where you are currently and that ideal future. “From here on out you’re either working towards that goal or you’re giving up on success,” he says. “It really is that simple.”
Secret No. 2: Develop an Unfair Advantage
Entrepreneurs have a natural hustle about them—a go-big-or-go-home sensibility to the way they live their lives, run their businesses and pursue opportunities. Hopkins says this “I can do anything attitude” is natural to entrepreneurs who are building businesses in uncharted territory. “Being a pioneer is scary,” he says. “Taking risks that may or may not be successful is scary, but for entrepreneurs, that’s where you need to be to make it.” And from those risks, he says, comes hard-won lessons and, in turn, confidence.
In the context of career development, conveying confidence can be a tricky issue. If you swan about the office as a first-year associate your confidence could seem unwarranted, alienate your colleagues and earn you a bad reputation. “If you’ve paid your dues though,” Hopkins says, “If you’ve put in the work and won the successes to earn that confidence, you’ll be well-regarded—and walking the path to success.”
So what, exactly, does earning your confidence entail? Identifying opportunities and pursuing them, even if they seem like extreme risks. “I don’t care if you’re in a big organization or a small one, the people who are going to get noticed and advance are the intrapreneurs,” Hopkins says. If there’s a process or a workflow that you think could be fine-tuned or overhauled, he suggests asking your manager to allow you to test it out. “If you position yourself and embrace the pioneering, risk-taking spirit of an entrepreneur, you’re going to be noticed.”
Secret No. 3: Recruit Allies
Have you ever watched entrepreneurs at a networking event or industry conference? These people hobnob like their lives depend on it. And that’s because, professionally speaking, they do.
The success of any organization—from startups to bluechips—is only as strong as its team. With that in mind, Hopkins advises to build your personal dream team from the first day of your first job. “Call it building a rolodex or call it relationship building, but what it really comes down to is the fact that every person you interact with counts towards achieving your ultimate goal,” he says, “You’re meeting and collecting your allies along the way.”
But just collecting business cards isn’t the path to prosperity. “The secret is in really truly caring about the individuals that you meet,” Hopkins says. He points to Millennials, who will hold between 15 to 20 jobs during the course of their career. “Along the way you will meet people who complement your strengths, who can support your weaknesses, or who you just really click with,” he says. “Keep track of them, help them keep track of you,” for you never know when your paths will cross again or you’ll be able to help each other find success.
(Source: Forbes.com, Meghan Casserly, December 12, 2012)