I am amazed, constantly, that people fail to get that being an employee is no different to running any other kind of small business. Everything you have to do to make a small business work has to be done when you’re an employee as well. The only difference is that you’ve got guaranteed income.
Guaranteed income is something that makes it easy to be lazy. Is there any point marketing your achievements when you’re going to get the pay-cheque anyway? Why bother to drum up new activity, actually, when doing additional work fails to result in an increase in income?
The illusion that you don’t have to run yourself as a small business comes about because most people only have to sell their services those few times they’re planning to change jobs. If that happens infrequently enough, it is easy to forget that everything you do right now is collateral for making the next big sale of yourself.
Those who change jobs more frequently are likely to inherently understand this fact. Contractors, especially, get it. It is why I advocate that everyone has a blog and does social media. It makes it simple to be visible.
One objection I always hear when I talk about this stuff, though, is that “some people aren’t good at self promotion”. Considering that being visible is so easy in this digital age, that argument doesn’t really wash much with me. It is far more likely, I think, that people who are poor at self-promotion actually have little or nothing to promote in the first place.
Another objection – perhaps a more relevant one, really – is that one should be thinking of doing the best they can right now, not worrying about the next big sale. Whatever happened to loyalty anyway? This is myopic thinking, because only the very lazy plan to be doing the same job forever. Can you imagine anything more boring than doing the same role, decade after decade?
Treating yourself as a small business has the consequence of reminding you, every day, that you are eventually going to have to make a sale, regardless of the present guaranteed income stream. This has the focusing effect of making sure your performance today is as good as it can be, because it is all marketing for the next big thing.