Just like anything in life, your career will follow Newton’s First Law of Motion.
Basically, if you don’t do anything to change it, your career will continue to go on exactly as it always has.
And maybe that’s what you want. But for most people, life changes, and we have dreams, and we want to do more. So if you want your career trajectory to change, you have to shift perspective, and consciously alter its inertia.
It’s one thing to know you want to change – it’s another thing to know how to do it.
The first step to creating future growth is to shift your mindset now, and reframe your career as a business.
What does it mean to frame your career as a business?
At a high level, building your career as a business is about the process of self-understanding and strategic personal branding. It’s about considering the value you bring in your line of work, and exploring possible growth opportunities from an outside perspective.
Think about it like this: any time you launch a new product or business, you think about the branding. You make sure that the product reflects the company’s values and mission. And if it performs well, you consider other products you could develop that would attract your desired audience. You can do the same with your career.
By consciously building your personal brand, you can find new ways to understand your abilities and potential. With a birds-eye view, you can see opportunities that will further your career in the direction that you want it to go – whether that’s leaving corporate life and building your own business, or becoming a serial entrepreneur.
It’s about moving away from a set, corporate career ladder and asking yourself, “how can I optimize my skillset and position myself so that I can avoid being pigeon-holed into a single position, while still leveraging my industry knowledge?”
What exactly does reframing a career look like?
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in – whether you’re an engineer at a startup, a PR expert at an agency, or a nurse in the healthcare system – there are always ways to expand your career beyond a single job. Over the course of our careers, we collect significant knowledge and expertise. When you reframe your career, you consider how that collected knowledge can create new opportunities that will further your career in the long-term.
It starts out small, like how you frame your resume, or create content. It starts with writing your LinkedIn bio about who you are, rather than what company you work for. It starts out with finding your niche, and consistently engaging in a community over time to build your audience.
Framing your career as a business is about becoming known for something.
💠 Intentionally cultivating your differentiator in the market is the first step towards increasing your social capital and expanding your network.
When you consciously craft your personal brand, you influence how people think about you, how they remember you, and how they talk about you when you’re not around. It plays into the concept of social status – we become known for our biggest identifier, which is most often our career. Our primary status is our calling card, and when you have a well-developed status, people and opportunities will come.
Doors will open, because people know who you are, what you want, and what you can do for them.
I know this can be an abstract concept, but it has real-world opportunities. For a nurse, it could look like becoming a voice for your community, and being invited to speak at conferences or using your leverage to create a better working environment. For a PR expert, it could look like writing a book on public relations strategy that will generate passive income. For an engineer, it could be taking on side projects that augment your income and build your network.
And it doesn’t have to stop there.
Reframing your vocation can build career sovereignty.
When I talk to my friends and clients about what they want out of their career, the most common answer I get is “more”.
- More freedom
- More control
- More money
- More free time
- More joy
When your entire career is built around serving a single company or business, all of these things that I listed above are going to be constrained by that business. And that business likely doesn’t care about you. Your manager may care, but they can only do so much. A business can fail, or fire you at any time. They can control your vacation time, your income, where you live, and how you feel about yourself.
But when you reframe your career outside the scope of a single job, you start to take back those things that were previously out of your control. You create options, stability, and financial security. You foster relationships that can lead to better jobs or new opportunities.
You set yourself up for true, long-term success.
Okay, that sounds awesome. But where do I start?
Changing your mindset and trajectory can seem overwhelming, but there are a number of ways in which you can build a strong foundation for career sovereignty:
- Take some time and think about what you really want. Sounds simple, right? But so many people run on autopilot, and we don’t often sit down with ourselves and really think about what we want our future to look like. So take the time. Start journalling. Meditate. Think about where you want to be in life 5 or 10 years from now, and what type of business model would let you do that. Think about the end goal, and work your way backwards to where you are now.
- Develop your personal brand. Once you understand what you want and what you can offer others, build a personal brand that is aligned with your values and future goals. Focus on your X-factor, and how you can cultivate it. Work on rewriting your digital footprint, from LinkedIn to your website to your Twitter account, so that it’s aligned with your personal brand. The goal is an authentic, independent brand that positions yourself as the expert that you are.
- Think about your job as a contract or client, instead of your world. When your job becomes a contractual obligation for an exchange of goods and services, you lessen the emotional attachment that happens when your job becomes your life. Instead, think about your job as a contract – one that you have, for now. Think about other clients or contracts you may want to pursue, and other parts of your expertise that you want to develop. This will allow you to become self-sustaining, so that you can leverage the benefits that business can give you with an eye to your long-term goals.
- Tell people about your intentions. This step can seem scary – it can be intimidating to put yourself out there. But if you keep your dreams a secret, then they’ll always be just that. Once people know what you want and what you can do for them, they’re more likely to reach out, or tell their friends about you. So you want to start building websites on the side? Awesome. Tell people, and they’ll know who to call when they need a website. Are you a writer? Tell people, and they’ll know who to call when they need to write an E-book. Don’t be ashamed of your ambition. Own it, and own your genius.
The bottom line
When you set up your career as a business, you’re giving yourself the framework to succeed. You’re building a fallback plan. You’re building a network of possibilities. You’re building future job offers, and valuable contacts, and additional income. It might not happen right away. If you want to do it right, then it’ll take time and consistency. But whether you want to write a book, start a podcast, speak at conferences, create a blog, or do anything else that positions you as a leader in your industry, you’re taking the first step towards all of the “more” things you want out of life.
The most important step is the first one: stop letting your career be something that just happens to you. Decide to be an active participant in shaping the life you want.