Whether you are ready to take the first step into business ownership or you want to map your path to that dream career, planning your journey will make the process easier. Because planning and implementing a career takes time and patience.
Your path to business success will be long, and you’ll probably feel like it is all uphill and full of detours. With a detailed plan of attack, you will be able to break down your goals into manageable tasks that you can keep track of over time. There are four steps to career planning, and if you work through these steps you will have a clear idea of yourself, your chosen industry, your plan and what the action you need to take.
This post will look at questions you need to ask about yourself and the industries you are interested in to ensure your chosen career or business is sustainable. Later in the week, we will look at questions you need to ask to write your plan and ways you can put it into action.
Step One: Know yourself
Before you can decide on the steps you need to take for your career, you need to know what you want from life in general. But knowing yourself is also about understanding your personal strengths and weaknesses, and creating a plan for personal development. This requires brutal honesty. You’ll have to ask yourself some tough questions about yourself and what you really want from your working life.
Being honest with yourself is harder than it seems, so you may even decide to ask your friends and family for their opinion too. You don’t have to act on every suggestion and criticism, remember it is only one person’s opinion. Instead, listen carefully and take to heart those comments that resonate with you. The important thing is to be honest with yourself.
Questions to ask yourself
- What am I looking for in life?
- Do I want the responsibility of my own business?
- Am I willing to put in the hours necessary?
- Or would I prefer to leave the responsibility to someone else?
- Do I want the structure and security of a career that I can leave behind when I finish work?
- What are my strengths? What am I good at?
- Is there some way to capitalize on this strength in my career or when I start a business?
- What am I not so good at? What are my weaknesses and fears?
- Are there any industries I should avoid because of unavoidable weaknesses or fears?
- How can I improve on avoidable weaknesses?
- For example, if you know that time management is difficult for you, what steps are you going to take to manage you time more effectively?
Over the past four years, I have had to face all of these questions. When I was honest with myself, these were the answers I gave.
- My children are young and, as a single mother, I think it is important for me to be available to them.
- I want enough money to be comfortable, but that isn’t my current priority.
- I am organized, self-motivated and tend to throw myself into my work. These are obviously considered strengths, but I need to ensure I find time for other aspects of my life as well.
- I get bored easily. This means I like to study and work on multiple projects, but also means I have to plan my time wisely so I stay focused on tasks when I need to.
By answering these questions, I realized that I am currently not in the position for a full-time job. With my family responsibilities, I can’t provide the consistent time frames of a 9-to-5 daily grind. But I can write, and I can write from anywhere. While I’d love to create a business empire, that’s also not where my life is at right now. Time with my children while they are young just feels more important. However, I’m certain I won’t always feel this way.
In a decade, when my son is moving on with his own life, I want to be ready to take my business to the next level. I want to have the skills under my belt that I need and the plan in place, so that when the time is right I can act.
Step Two: Know the industry
The second step in the process is to identify industries that you have experience in or are interested in learning more about. This is equally important for both career and business planning. You need to consider customer demand and possibilities for industry changes, so you can be sure that the business or job you choose will continue to be in demand into the future.
Questions to research
- What is the future of the industry?
- Are there new opportunities?
- What has been done before and could it be done differently?
- What aspects will become automated?
- What specialized skills does this industry require?
- How can I apply my skills
- Where are the gaps in my knowledge?
- What do customers want from this industry?
There’s no point starting a business and finding out people just aren’t buying what you are selling. You have to adapt to the market if you want to succeed in the long term. Take my business for instance. I am a writer with a background in newspaper journalism. When I originally started, I was focused on providing press releases for my clients.
Over the past ten years, my industry has changed a lot. Gone are the days of the traditional media. In response, the services I offer have changed too. Blogs and e-books have replaced press releases and brochures because that is what the market demands from my skill set. While my writing style has had to change along with the medium, my business administration skills learned early in my career have consistently provided me with an edge both at work and in business.
In our next blog, we will look at the third and fourth step, writing and implementing your career plan. Until then, if you want more information about building a business career fill out the contact form or download our e-book here.