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Category: Career Management
The Benefits of Starting your own Business

Plenty of people talk about starting a business. They have great ideas, their job is holding them down, if they could just run the place it would be so very different. Most people won’t ever get past the water cooler banter and take the leap to become an entrepreneur. Maybe they’re afraid, maybe they don’t want that much responsibility.

However, more and more women have taken the leap to start their own business. Women-owned businesses in the U.S. have increased by 44% in the past decade. Owning a business allows women to do something they’re passionate about, and have the flexibility to balance work and the rest of their life.

In a recent blog, GoDaddy.com founder, Bob Parsons, talks about why you should take the leap and start your own business. I’ve summarized Parson’s reasons (with additional commentary) below.

1. Do What You Love

Doing what you love and doing what pays the bills have likely been mutually exclusive for most of your adult life. If, however, you can find a way to make your passions into a potentially profitable business plan, that’s a game changer.

2. Work Where You Want

Have you always wanted to live in a new neighborhood or city? Would you just prefer to work from home? When you’re the boss you get to make these decisions. You choose the company, culture and the workspace.

3. Work When You Want

As an entrepreneur you’re going to work more than 40 hours a week at first to get your business off the ground. Since you like what you do this won’t be as much of a burden as working overtime at a job you despise. GoDaddy’s Bob Parsons says flexible scheduling is key. As an entrepreneur you have the flexibility to schedule your hours around family obligations or outside interests.

4. Control Your Own Destiny

If you see a shift in the marketplace you can let things happen or you can aggressively point your business in the right direction to come out on top. You choose where the business goes and when. It is a lot of responsibility but it’s a big benefit, too.

5. Be as Creative as You Want

A common burden of big corporations is a lack of flexibility and creative problems solving. As a business owner you can handle just about any aspect of the business (with the obvious exception of accounting) with as much creativity and out-of-the-box thinking as you see fit.

6. Choose Who You Work With

If you pride yourself as a good judge of character, put those skills to the test. Being your own boss means you get to choose your team. You can hire anyone you want. Choose well and you’ll have a positive work environment and a productive team. Sounds like a dream come true to me.

7. Develop New Skills

In most jobs, you have to be good or great at something to find success. As a business owner you have to be a great manager of people and have good general oversight of your business. Part of that means learning new skills as needed. You might need to learn public speaking, sales, crisis management or any other number of new things.

8. Unlimited Potential Earnings

If the company is earning money, so are you. You can make your own salary, choose your own benefits and, if you’re successful, your earnings potential is theoretically unlimited.

9. Exciting

The risk of failure and unknown future make owning a business exciting. Stressful at times, perhaps, but always exciting.

10. Satisfying

At the end of the day (or week, year or decade) you’ll be far more satisfied having made something for yourself than for getting good marks on your peer review.

 
3 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Business success extends beyond having extraordinary ambition and drive for success. For an individual to exceed expectations and accomplish goals, he or she must not only act as a manager but as a leader. A leader possesses characteristics that inspires others and creates an environment of innovation, respect and openness.

Evaluate your leadership characteristics to see if you possess the following traits:

Creativity

A leader that possesses creative ideals positively influences a team and encourages individuals to think freely outside of their comfort zone. Whether a workflow process needs to be updated for efficiency or a newly developed product needs an innovative design, creativity is at the core of achieving goals. Creativity is a step toward innovation and innovation leads to market breakthroughs, which equates to success.

Author Ed Young of “The Creative Leader: Unleashing the Power of Your Creative Potential” explains that even in religious environments, leaders with a focus on creativity generate flowing ideas, avoid burnout, overcome obstacles and keep audiences engaged. Pastor Young also points out that humility and the ability to admit error also define creative leadership.

Forbes.com contributor Doug Guthrie, Dean of the George Washington University School of Business, explains that to be a leader of a successful organization, embracing humility, recognizing failure and exemplifying modesty prompts authenticity and opportunity. Self-aware creative leaders who welcome outside input can be more open minded, inspirational and empowering.

Integrity

A successful leader is respected by his or her colleagues. Integrity is essential for acquiring self-respect and respect from your employees. With mutual esteem between a leader and his team, the organization has a solid foundation for achieving goals and reaching success. Booher Consultants CEO Dianna Booher tells CNN.com that to act with integrity, tell the truth and practice the principles you preach. People want to work hard for someone who’s genuine and sincere.

Leadership blog Changing Winds offers the following ways that individuals can lead with integrity:

  • Be consistent with your words, actions and ideals
  • Avoid cynicism and negativity
  • Embrace ongoing personal growth and change
  • Seek and be receptive to outside perspectives and ideas
  • Admit mistakes and take responsibility as an individual
  • Celebrate achievements as a team
  • Approach situations and people with empathy

Commitment & Follow-Through

Employees and advocates trust leaders who are committed and follow through. A superior leader will keep their word and fulfill promises. For example, Booher says that if you tell a colleague that you’ll introduce them to a potential new client, make the introduction. Did you tell someone that you’d be a reference? Then make sure you provide your contact information or write a letter of recommendation. Being a leader of his or her word and following through on projects, assignments and tasks solidifies your credibility as a leader and imparts trust in your professional relationships.

Also, make a commitment to your employees. Take time to create a positive and non-hostile working environment and go above and beyond to ensure that your employees are happy in their roles and with company objectives.

 
10 Best Employers in America

It’s possible to love your job, have schedule flexibility and low stress… and get a good salary too!  You just have to work for the right company.

The first annual list of the best employers in America by PayScale and Business Insider evaluates companies by both pay and happiness.

Companies in the 2012 Fortune 500 were ranked using PayScale’s salary and survey database.  Happiness was measured through questions about satisfaction, feelings of meaningfulness, stress, and schedule flexibility.  Pay was measured by looking at median pay after five years and pay compared to industry peers.

Here’s the list of top 10 employers.

1. Celgene Corporation

Headquartered in Summit, N.J., this biotechnology company has more than 4,500 employees.

Employees report very high rates of satisfaction (91%), meaningfulness (86%), and flexibility (91%); and high rates of relaxation (41%).

Median pay is very high at $118,000 after five years, and high compared to industry peers.

2. Google, Inc.

Headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., this internet company has more than 30,000 employees.

Employees report very high rates of satisfaction (81%); high rates of relaxation (44%), meaningfulness (61%), and flexibility (81%).

Median pay is very high at $119,000 after five years, and very high compared to industry peers.

3. Huntsman Corporation

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, this chemicals company has approximately 12,000 employees.

Employees report very high rates of relaxation (50%) and flexibility (94%); high rates of meaningfulness (63%) and satisfaction (75%).

Median pay is very high at $95,600 after five years, and high compared to industry peers.

4. Qualcomm, Inc.

Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., this telecommunications company has over 20,000 employees.

Employees report very high rates of satisfaction (81%) and flexibility (92%); high rates of meaningfulness (65%); and average relaxation (37%).

Median pay is very high at $106,000 after five years, and very high compared to industry peers.

5. Biogen Idec, Inc.

Headquartered in Weston, Mass., this biotechnology company has 4,850 employees.

Employees report very high rates of satisfaction (83%), flexibility (89%), and meaningfulness (89%); and average relaxation (33%).

Median pay is very high at $97,800 after five years, and very high compared to industry peers.

6. MasterCard Worldwide

Headquartered in Purchase, N.Y., this financial services company has 6,700 employees.

Employees report very high rates of satisfaction (81%), relaxation (63%) and flexibility (85%); and average rates of meaningfulness (54%).

Median pay is very high at $103,000 after five years, and high compared to industry peers.

7. Chevron Corporation

Headquartered in San Ramon, Calif., this oil and gas company has 62,000 employees.

Employees report very high rates of satisfaction (81%) and relaxation (47%); and high rates of flexibility (80%) and meaningfulness (58%).

Median pay is very high at $102,000 after five years, and high compared to industry peers.

8. Yahoo! Inc.

Headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., this internet company has 14,100 employees.

Employees report very high rates of relaxation (46%) and flexibility (88%); high rates of satisfaction (81%); and average rates of meaningfulness (55%).

Median pay is very high at $120,000 after five years, and high compared to industry peers.

9. E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Co.

Headquartered in Wilmington, Del., this chemicals company has 70,000 employees.

Employees report very high rates of flexibility (84%) and satisfaction (84%); and high rates of relaxation (43%) and meaningfulness (67%).

Median pay is high at $80,700 after five years, and high compared to industry peers.

10. Williams Companies, Inc.

Headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., this oil and gas company has 3,913 employees.

Employees report very high rates of relaxation (54%) and satisfaction (80%); and high rates of flexibility (79%) and meaningfulness (65%).

Median pay is high at $79,000 after five years, and very high compared to industry peers.

To see the complete list of 50 companies, click here.

 
Delegating at Work

Do you feel overwhelmed with your workload?  Many of us fail to delegate even when overloaded with work, because we have a hard time giving up control.  We feel like we need to do it all ourselves.  Let me tell you, I was once a control freak, holding on to every project to make sure it was done my way.  “It needs to be right”, I told myself, so who better to assure it than me?   It goes back to high expectations.  We have a problem trusting others to do the job up to our standards.  We follow the old adage – If you want a job done well, do it yourself.  This kind of thinking can keep us prisoners of our work.  It puts undue pressure on ourselves, and doesn’t give others an opportunity to develop new skills.

If you have someone at work that you can delegate to, by all means, do so. Trust others even when it’s difficult. Let go of control. This will free you up from the trivial duties to focus on more strategic activities that will increase your effectiveness.

I learned that delegation takes a certain knack, one that we can all learn, if we try.  How do you delegate?  Here are four steps in the delegation process.

Decide – What tasks can you delegate?  Ask yourself, “Can anyone else complete this task?”  If so, then decide to whom you’ll delegate responsibility.

Discuss – Meet with the employee to describe the project or task.  Share your expectations and desired outcome, but not necessarily the “how”.  Be sure to provide the proper tools and resources.  Also discuss and negotiate the time frame or deadline.

Support – For longer-term projects, follow-up and monitor progress; assist if they need guidance.

Recognize – Acknowledge the employee’s effort and results.  Let him or her know how much you appreciate their help.  A simple “thank you” goes a long way.

By delegating effectively, you’ll increase your overall productivity and effectiveness – and reduce your stress.

 
How to Seek out Mentors

Mentoring can help you get ahead in your career!  Take the example of Heather Shea.  Heather started as an entry-level sales representative at Tom Peters Group.  Two years later she became President with the help of her mentor, Tom Peters.  Having good mentors can help you gain confidence, gain new knowledge and skills, obtain new opportunities, and ultimately achieve your career goals!  According to the late Dr. Linda Phillips-Jones, principal consultant of The Mentoring Group, “finding and making use of the right mentors is the most critical step you’ll ever take in your career”.  This is true whether you’re just starting out in your career or a 30-year veteran.

All it takes to find and benefit from a mentor is initiative and a willingness to learn.  But before you look for a mentor, you need to take a hard look at yourself.  It really starts with an assessment of yourself.  What are your career goals?  What areas do you need to develop?  What knowledge, skills and opportunities do you need to achieve your goal?

Once you have defined your development needs, look for mentors who have skills in those areas.  Gordon Shea, author of Making the Most of Being Mentored, says that you need to “know explicitly what you need or want from the (mentoring) relationship and have well-defined objectives”.

What should you look for in a mentor?  Besides having the skills and experience that you need, this person should have good listening and coaching skills and be a good encourager.  Think about people whom you admire, trust and respect.  Could any of them be a good mentor for you?  A common mistake that people make is trying to find one ideal mentor.  It’s not likely that one mentor can meet all of your needs.  Instead think in terms of multiple mentors.  You may have different mentors for different areas of expertise that you want to develop.  You may find mentors in your company or outside of your workplace, such as professional or volunteer organizations.

In approaching mentors, you don’t want to come right out and ask, “Will you be my mentor?”  It’s a loaded word.  People may not think of themselves as mentors or they may be scared off by the commitment it implies.  Instead, make a specific request.  It helps however if you get to know the person first.  Ask a mutual acquaintance to introduce you, or volunteer to work on a committee with a potential mentor.  Observe him in action.  Tell him you’d like to learn more about what he does well (project planning, leading teams, etc.), and ask if he’s willing to meet for an hour to share his expertise.  “I’ve always been very proactive about making contact with people I could learn from,” says Linda Hoffman, Managing Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers.  “When I meet someone I can learn from, then I build a relationship.  We go have lunch and talk.”

Finally, after a mentor has helped you, don’t forget to say thank you.  It’s very important to show appreciation.  Follow up, thank him, and let him know how his advice has helped you.  This opens the door to ask for help on an ongoing basis.

Approaching potential mentors may feel awkward at first, but you’ll find that the benefits are well worth it!  Be proactive and initiate mentoring relationships.  Working with mentors will help you learn, grow, develop and ultimately achieve your career goals!

For more information on working with mentors, read Connecting with Success: How to Build a Mentoring Network to Fast-Forward Your Career.