Business Strategy

Treat Your Career Like an Entrepreneurial Venture

Why You Should Treat Your Career Like an Entrepreneurial Venture

We often hear the term “entrepreneurship,” but what does it really mean? Harvard Business Review suggests the concept is more complicated to define than it might seem. But the journal finds Professor Howard Stevenson’s definition the most workable: “entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled.”

In this conceit, “pursuit” indicates a forward trajectory, while “opportunity” can be any venture that excites you. Further, “beyond resources controlled” suggests both vision and foresight to make whatever “resources” you have useful to their fullest capacity.

Thus, HBR’s definition here can be used in many contexts, outside of the traditional business ventures we often hear “entrepreneurial” used to describe. In fact, this concept fits our purposes here: to describe how you can treat your career as an entrepreneurial venture.

Specifically, you can boost your career entrepreneurially if you think of yourself as a valuable – and rare – resource that can develop opportunities beyond those that might be offered to you. By thinking this way, you can not only design an ambitious career path but also define yourself as a unique expert in your field.

Here, we’ll describe how you can apply five key concepts of entrepreneurship to your career.

Create a clearly-defined product (yourself).

One of the pitfalls of a non-entrepreneurial career mindset is you simply think your job is to tick off boxes on your job description. Entrepreneurial thinkers know this isn’t the case. Instead, they want to break down barriers, identify and solve problems, and focus on their strengths and interests.Create a clearly-defined product (yourself).

As you progress in your career, focus on doing a few things well, rather than everything adequately. This is your specialty – what really drives you and motivates you to improve and carve out your particular niche.

Articulate your focused differentiator.

Once you’ve developed a particular expertise, leverage this proficiency to your advantage. In your current position, highlight and articulate this expertise as you develop your career. Your colleagues will start asking for your advice on particular topics, and you’ll be able to build your brand as a thought leader.

Further, describe your interests and the ways you want to develop yourself so your superiors can help you expand your expertise. If they’re unwilling to help you better yourself in a way that excites you, you may want to seek employment elsewhere.

Later, if you’re seeking a promotion either at your current company or elsewhere, too, speak to this focused, unusual expertise in your application materials and during your interviews.

Offer a specific value proposition.

Once you’ve identified and articulated what sets you apart from others in your field, describe why this proficiency matters to the company.

Take Apple computers as an example. When the company first created personal computers, they were not as complex as other computers. This is a focused differentiator: its simplicity set it apart from other computers. But once the company aimed to sell these computers, they noted that their product was easy to use for unfamiliar computer users. This is their value proposition.

Devise a marketing plan.In other words, the focused differentiator is what makes you different, while the value proposition articulates why this difference matters. If you don’t describe why your difference adds value for the company, then why should they care? This is what you want to describe in your application materials, as well.

Devise a marketing plan.

Once you’ve identified your focused differentiators and value proposition, create a marketing plan where you can share these things about yourself. A smart place to start is by creating a tagline and short self-summary that you can use on your website and LinkedIn profile. If you want to center yourself as a particular kind of expert, this is how to start. Later, when you’re applying for new jobs, you can direct hiring managers to these platforms. In addition, you’ll be better set up to highlight the projects you’ve completed that demonstrate your and expertise in action.

Define your market (target jobs or employers).

When you’re looking for your next step, it can be appealing to throw out applications everywhere and see what sticks. But this isn’t what successful entrepreneurs do. It wastes your time and resources while also making you risk falling into whatever’s next, rather than making a well-researched decision.

Before looking for a new position, create a list of values and attributes that would advance you in your career. Next, take this list to research steps on a career value, companies that interest you, and positions that are appealing. This information can give you a specific direction to make your next career move.

If nothing seems quite right, however, consider mapping your own path. Think like an entrepreneur to create and pitch your own job description. Remember, a good entrepreneur is always looking for what hasn’t been created yet – the same mentality you want in advancing in your career.

Entrepreneurship in Your Career

Planning your career like you would a business venture can open new avenues that you otherwise wouldn’t have conceived. More than that, defining yourself, your particular skillset, and your abilities as valuable can make you an impossible-to-pass-up hire for companies. While “selling” yourself can feel inauthentic, focusing on what makes you stand out can create opportunity – both for you and for your employer.

The best way to start thinking like an entrepreneur is to assess your unique abilities and your particular passions. While it’s important to identify what sets you apart and why that matters, it can be hard to focus on your strengths when you’re in the thick of career planning. One of Ivy Exec’s mentors and coaches can provide you an unbiased, value-focused strengths assessment that will help you prepare for your career future.


Meet with a Career Coach to define your personal value proposition and build your brand.


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