Five career tips from the trenches of entrepreneurship
By Amy Laski
Have you ever tried running along a sandy beach? The refreshing sea breeze, the mist off the water, sun drenching your hair…
It sounds glorious. But running on sand is hard work. It’s difficult to gain traction, the wind is often much stronger by the ocean, and at times the beach can be so wide, it proves hard to navigate.
My experience working in a big corporation felt like running on sand. While I found it fascinating to be working alongside colleagues from around the globe, as someone who likes to move swiftly to make and implement decisions, it often felt like I was running hard but not really getting anywhere.
The best thing to come out of my time working in a large corporation was that I experienced first-hand, as a client, the shortcomings of the traditional PR agency model. So when I was contemplating the next step in my career, I seized the opportunity to turn this agency model on its ear and founded a virtual communications and content agency, Felicity.
Now that I’ve been in the entrepreneurial trenches for more than four years, I thought I would share some of the learnings from my journey thus far. These can, in turn, be applied to any career. Whether you’re looking to amplify your performance within an existing position, make a move up the corporate ladder, or start something new—these five tips will help ensure your success along the way.
- Have well-toned resilience muscles, you’ll need to flex them
I’d heard the saying, “when one door closes, another opens.” Nobody forewarned me, however, just how many doors may close, and how many others I’d have to knock on, in order to achieve success. No matter how trying things become, knowing how to pick yourself up and move beyond challenges to identify opportunities is key to career success. Whether it’s a boss, a client, or a colleague with whom you are looking to align, you alone control how you react to challenges. Rally your supporters—those people who opened the door for you, even a crack—and leverage their support to help open other doors on your behalf. This can be as simple as asking for a connection via LinkedIn, or seeking their advice or mentorship while navigating a tricky situation.
- Ask the right people the right questions—and pay attention to their answers, even when it’s something you don’t want to hear.
Know your strengths, and equally important, your weaknesses. These may change over time as you grow, as your needs change, and as the business environment changes around you. Constantly re-evaluate your relative position, then surround yourself with people who complement your strengths and weaknesses. The ability to tap into your own intellectual curiosity, ask poignant questions of these “complementors,” and listen attentively to their answers, will deepen your understanding of any complex issue or challenge you face.
- Never stop expanding your network, and nurturing it.
No matter what field you’re in, consider yourself Chief of both Sales and Marketing for your personal brand. Filling your funnel means having a vibrant and relevant network that’s working for you at all times, even in the background. Keep in contact with your network, provide value where you can, take the time to comment on and share their posts via social media, and meet in person whenever possible. The more effort you put into maintaining your network, the easier it will be to reach out without feeling intrusive. No matter if you’re happy in the position you’re in or looking for something new, a great deal of your power lies amongst the people you’re connected to.
- Keep the big picture in mind.
There’s no better time to think about the big picture than when you’re perfectly comfortable with where you’re at. They say if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. Always have a list of long-term goals you’re working toward, and keep your short-term decisions and objectives tied to these.
- Love it or leave it.
You’ll know when you’re doing something that’s right for you and you’ll know when you’re not. There’s nothing worse than working for a company or in a role that doesn’t make you happy. Leaving a position is not about failure, it’s about organizational fit and professional growth. Finding a role where you provide value and your work is valued, is satisfying and motivating in and of itself. Trust your gut, and act upon it to build the bridge to your next move.
Amy Laski is founder and president of Felicity [Inspiring Communications], an award-winning virtual integrated communications and public relations agency, where clients pay for brains, not bricks. Teams are comprised of seasoned communicators driven by business minds, and are custom-tailored with the right experts based on client needs. Felicity partners with clients to leverage public relations in support of their overall business strategies, to optimize reputation, inspire action, and drive bottom-line results. Felicity associates thrive on doing challenging work within a flexible work arrangement. Happy workers = happy clients. For more information about Felicity, go to www.felicitypr.com