As a business school graduate, I have a very business oriented mind. I see business in everything; opportunities are at every corner, and there is undeniable opportunity for growth if you are willing to put in the work and strategize.
I think this is the case for your life, too. Rather, your professional life; business has it’s place, and it’s place is not in your marriage or with your kids and friends.
Here’s why I think you should treat your professional life like a business:
Your ability to make money, especially doing something that you enjoy, hinges almost completely on your ability to market yourself. Whether you work for yourself or a company, you need to know how to put yourself out there and present yourself and your skills to get the best of the best.
Marketing covers potential customers as well, not just current customers. This means that you need to be constantly marketing yourself to your network. I use LinkedIn, and ensure that I’m always professional on it. I don’t add friends to my LinkedIn unless they are also a professional contact, because LinkedIn is not Facebook and should not be treated like Faecbook.
If you work for yourself, the customer service part is obvious; you must provide good customer service to your clients.
If you work for a company, your customers are your bosses, direct reports, and whomever works with you. Provide only great customer service to these individuals.
As a professional, this can also extend to your network. If you help people out when they ask for assistance (looking over people’s resumes, providing contacts, providing feedback), they are more likely to help you out when you need it. There comes a time in almost every professionals career when they need help with something.
All businesses have a financial aspect, and your professional life should too. Don’t work in finance? That’s fine. You still have a financial aspect.
This could be part of your marketing of yourself (how much money did you save the last company you worked for?) or part of your customer service. Businesses (including your own, if you work for yourself) are in it for the money. You should be finding ways to save them money.
Finance is metric orientated, so make some metrics for yourself and demonstrate how you’ve reached them.
You also need to be negotiating your wages for every company you work for, and every contract you pick up if you are self employed. Get the best price for the service you offer.
Since your professional life is your own, you need to ensure that you have adequate work/life balance, compensation, benefits, and that you feel comfortable and that you “fit” with the jobs you are picking up.
Don’t work for a company that you don’t like. This will reduce your morale which will make you market yourself poorly. You must be choosy with your job (but don’t throw in the towel too soon, either, as this can be just as damaging to your reputation as low morale).
Self management and leadership is a good indicator of whether or not you would make a good leader and manager of other people.
If you can manage yourself well, you’ll be more successful in your professional life.
Success is almost always a derivative of your reputation (and hard work, of course). If you treat your professional life like it’s a business, your reputation will precede you.