Years ago while getting my car tinted at a kind of shady palace, the tint dude said that I was technically a company. His case based on the fact that I have a social security number, which is a tax id number, and that in essence I function like a company. Technically, I am a business… me personally. It was then that I realized that I am… YOU are… WE are businesses. The more I thought about this, the more it became evident that this was true. We are either good providers, or consultants. But because we don’t know it, or recognize it, we put ourselves at a disadvantage.
Individually we are functionally sole proprietorships. Your client or customer, could be someone you sell to directly or your boss, let’s say the shift manager at Target. And your good could be a skill, or maybe saying “Hello! Welcome to Tarje’! ”. If being a Target greeter is your passion, and you are great at it then kudos. But there is still opportunity in leveraging standard business practices to expand your market. But if you HATE it, or find that it’s not your most profitable offering, then maybe you should look into something else. Not only is this a waste of your time , but it’s also a disservice to your customer. It would be like your Cable Company, being your local bar tender. See how that doesn’t work? You are the “cable” company. You just need to find out what your “cable service” is and sell it. And with this you are empowered to control your career, because you control your own business Y.O.U. Inc.
Even if you’re not feeling the “magic” of empowerment, the sad truth is that it doesn’t matter. You still are your own company and are responsible for it non-the-less. As previously stated, you are either a consultant or a manufacturer of sorts. You either provide expertise in the development, marketing, and sales of a good or service; or you create the good or service yourself. There is an illusion of being an employee when your client is a large enterprise. This is in part due to old outdated cultural norms.
Once when you were a part of a company you were A PART of the company. There was something like a relationship formed. We have all seen documentaries where they talk about the closing of the GM plants and grown men cry. It was THEIR business. It was THEIR assembly line. And in a way it really was. There was a familial aspect to the profession, for better and for worst. A man could be a welder, and when his son graduated high school, he could pass his actual job down to his own son. But as the powers that be required constant growth, a symptom of the cancer that’s capitalism (another blog), the loyalty between the enterprise and the body that makes it up dissolved. Pensions disappeared, and job security succumbed to the weight of shareholder greed, forever breaking the bond of loyalty between employee and employer. Now jobs go to the cheaper with higher perceived value individual, period. And this competition can come and take your place at any time and from anywhere… even China. Congratulations!!! You have just become an internationally competing enterprise of one.
To keep your job you have to continuously “add value”. This is the same as creating new markets. If you’re a welder, you need to also find a way to parley that welding experience into process improvement experience. You have to not just be the best damned welder to have ever been on the line, but you have to be so good that you can tell other welders how to be better. You have to be so good and business smart that you are able to create an innovative improvement, sell it to leadership, and manage it to a successful positive impact to the bottom line. What would have once gotten you a promotion, or at least a bonus is now “what we pay you for”, this is your job. But what is this? Consultancy. You are a consultant, not an employee, not a member of the enterprise, but an outsider brought in to improve the business. But what if you don’t want to do that? You don’t want to do the business, sell your skill, business acumen, consult… you just want to weld. Then start a business and weld. But you will still need a partner who is responsible for the business of selling your welding.
But without them you are responsible for your own brand, marketing and selling. For controlling your image via social media; developing and marketing your skills, networking and resume; and selling interviewing officially and unofficially. With the internet, resumes are almost never read in their entirety by an actual human. Instead they are scanned by computers and searched for buzz words. Only if your resume has the correct buzz word may it run across a humans computer. The human is then looking for the correct context of the correct buzz word prominently displayed and clearly stated in a quantifiable way. The development of the tool to communicate this is exclusively your responsibility. You are your own marketing department. Not only do you have to develop the marketing material, but you have to develop the distribution strategy. How will you disseminate this information, a blog? Linked in? Facebook? Twitter? And with this decision we address your brand. Branding is an important part of the business of you. One of the most important values, is perceived value.
You to have a brand, and it is one of the most important parts of you “getting a job”, selling to a customer, closing a client. You must develop your brand and market it well. With tools like Facebook, linked-in, and twitter one must curate ones image. You have to be the brand of “employee” the company would hire. You have to look like you share a lifestyle that fits your targeted company. Do you go to the right restaurants, watch the right movies, wear the right clothes, use the right vernacular?
Are you “the right fit”? This requirement is two-fold:
- When your client looks you up they have to see that you fit their brand. More and more WHO you are is becoming just as important as WHAT you do.
- You have to be in the world of your client to interface with them in the first place. If you want to sell tires to car makers, then you have to go to the car show, the body shop and the race track. If you want to sell your skills to a specific business you have to already be in some way affiliated with the world of that business.
This cuts into your personal life. If you grew up on “the wrong side of the tracks” you may have affiliations that are perceived negatively by your potential clients, or you may never even meet your prospective clients at all. So you must to cross those tracks, and hide aspects of the tracks from which you came to fit in. At the same time you have to develop a compelling “Story”. Where you’re from, and where you intend to go. This story must be developed and packaged in various formats. You have to have the elevator speech; this is your cold call commercial, a digital version; Monster, Linked-in, ect. You also have what I would call your total brand. How do you dress, speak and carry yourself. And this image must be consistent from the office to the weekend cook out.
You are a sole proprietorship, also known as a sole trader or simply a proprietorship. This is a type of business entity that is owned and run by one natural person and in which there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business. The owner is in direct control of all elements and is legally accountable for the finances of such business and this may include debts, loans, loss etc. In the company of YOU, you are the sole trader and are legally responsible for all finances and actions of your business including school, training, bills, transportation and any additional services you use to brand, market, and develop Y.O.U. Inc. Think student loans and credit cards, or cultural experiences and cars.
Functionally a company is a business entity that delivers goods or services for legal tenure. Simplified it is an entity that is paid to do something. What is an employee? A person that is paid to do something. When you’re an employee what are you? A business, an entity paid for a task.
As in most things, there are positives and negatives to this. The negative is that there is no job stability outside of the stability. The lack of loyalty between employer and employee makes the transaction between the two “just business”, there is no personal aspect to it since the employee its self is just a conglomerate of small businesses, there is functionally no ‘person’ for you to deal with. This is however a good thing as it enables one to have complete control over their career. You should continue to look for the better opportunity. You owe your employer the SAME level of commitment that they give you. At will is at will for BOTH parties. Another challenge is that you are responsible for finding your own work. Most jobs are not posted and spamming the jobs that are posted online and hoping for a hit is like playing lottery scratch off tickets and hoping for a big win. You must differentiate yourself, and build your business network up in such a way that you are able to procure work via direct contact to the decision makers. The positive side of this is that you are able to do what you want. Since you have to find your own work, you can find the work that suits you best, that is already on your side of the proverbial tracks. The last risk is that you alone are accountable for every aspect of your professional life. However with responsibility comes reward. You are empowered to negotiate and demand the reward for what your worth. This strengthens the reason for you to choose an industry for your “business” that you like. A common question asked is “what would you do if you didn’t need the money?” The REAL question is “what would you pay to do daily?” Whatever THAT is… that should be Y.O.U. Inc.’s business.
The payment unfortunately can be steep. The first “bill” is education. We have to develop the skill we want to sell. Next we have to learn and understand the basics of business. We should understand the basic business functions and their supporting processes. We should specialize our business. We should build relationships, develop a supporting team, and expand the services we offer.
The three basic business functions that we must master at minimum are Operations, Marketing, and Finance. Developing an operation strategy is key to your business. How are you going to provide what goods or services? What are the limitations in what you CAN produce and when? Since Y.O.U. are the business you have to examine how you work best. This goes back to doing what you WANT to do, what is something that comes naturally to you, and then how do you do that best? You are on your way to defining how you will operate. Next Y.O.U. Inc. has to master financial management. Since you are the business every expense you have is an investment. They can be good investments or bad investments. Every dollar you spend should generate a return. It should somehow help you operate better. Maybe a vacation enables you to recharge and refresh. Maybe a car gets the attention of potential clients. A movie gives you new innovative and creative ideas. But money spent without purpose, is wasted. While we covered marketing quite a bit earlier in this discussion, Y.O.U. Inc. must have a marketing strategy. This includes how you present yourself and where you present yourself. The circles you run in are your potential clients. If you don’t have individuals around you that would consume your goods and services you have to consider changing something: 1 – your surroundings or 2 – your good or service.
The breakdown of employee employer relations has shifted the ownership of the business to the individual. This has had the effect of merging ones personal life and professional life. Making Y.O.U. a business, and therefore everything you do a business decision. While this can appear to be a burden, it is actually liberation. Rather than fitting your life into your work, you can fit work into your life. All we have to do is recognize that Y.O.U. are a business.
Interesting Reads and References: