Act Like an Entrepreneur, Even If You're Not One

Even if you're not an entrepreneur, you can take lessons from good ones to better manager your career.  Only on

We've been talking about entrepreneurship a lot around here at Cubicle Hustler this month.  Now if you only took a quick skim through the other two posts on the subject (here and here) you might think I'm somehow against people starting their own businesses or becoming entrepreneurs.  You'd especially think that if you only read the titles but I know that no one on the internet would ever do a thing like that (written in sarcasm font.  

As I said before and I'll say again, I totally support more people starting businesses when they are ready.  But in the meantime, I also support people adopting a bit of that entrepreneurially hustle into their day jobs whether they ever quit to work for themselves or not.  

Even if you are currently giving you 40 hours a week to The Man, you can still act like an entrepreneur.  And if you do it right, you might see your career go farther because of it.


Treat Your Employer Like a Client

You can be employed without adopting the mindset of an employee.  

Employees tend to come in, do what's asked of them, but likely nothing more, and then head home.  Entrepreneurs act like their lives depend on their business because in many very real ways they do.  Those who tend to stand out in the workplace, who rise quickly and make their marks act more like entrepreneurs than employees.  

One way to do that is to treat your employer like a client instead.  Instead of thinking of your boss as someone who tells you what to do, think of her as your first and most important client who's hired you as a consultant on a long term contract in your area of expertise.  

That doesn't mean that this person no longer has any authority over you - ask any consultant if that's the case.  What it will do is subtly shift your mindset from a "let me get in and out" frame of reference to one that's more focused on "let me solve this problem and deliver this value."  Thinking of your boss and your company as a client will make you think, "how can I deliver the most value?" and "am I actually solving a real problem for them or just doing what I've been asked to do?"

Delivering value and solving problems are what make a person a prized member of the team.  And if you can see your work through this lens at the outset, it'll enable you to grow your career intentionally in the direction that you want to go.  

Finally, forcing yourself to operate like this makes it so much easier for you to sell your skill set in the future - in writing your professional bio, updating your resume, and in interviews for future positions.  You'll be able to tell anyone in crystal clear language the problems you solve and the value you provide.  


Keep an Eye Out for Opportunity

Hustling entrepreneurs are always keeping an eye out for what might be coming next.  They're always taking stock of trends, innovations and new insights to see what opportunity might be ripe for the picking.  You can do the same with your career.  

Talk to people about their work.  Do this with contacts in your company and industry but also do it with people who are working on things completely different from you.  Read and read a lot.  Not just articles that you see on your News Feed, but seek out info from sources that will challenge your opinions and assumptions.  Listen to podcasts or interviews on subjects that you've never heard of. 

The point of this is not to bore you to tears or change your mind on key things.  The point is to see what else is out there that you might be missing.  You are the only person on this earth with your experiences.  A nugget of inspiration from an interview about farmer's in Lesotho could be the thing that makes you think about a challenge your team is facing in a whole new way.  

This can also be thing thing that helps you navigate your career and make sure that your skills are fresh.  Instead of just reading about some new cool invention in the news, ask yourself "how might this change my life or my customers' lives?"  "How would this change my job or the way I do my job?"  Again, most people come in, do what's asked of them and leave.  So it's not that hard to stand out from the pack and really show your team and your boss that you're truly a leader.  In this day and age of job insecurity and rapidly changing technology, this is also just a smart way to operate.  Keep your eye on where the world is going and keep your skills fresh so you don't find yourself left behind.  


Learn How to Pivot

Pivot.  Iterate.  Rebrand.  Regardless of what startup and tech writers are calling it, they all basically mean the same thing.  These terms just mean a business started out with one idea and ended up with another.  

In hustler terms, all this really means is going with the flow.  

Do the same with your career.  Just because you start in one industry or path doesn't mean you have to stay there.  Just because you're currently at Director-level doesn't mean you can't accept a Manager-level role next.  Especially for you mid-career hustlers, just because you made $175,000 at your last job doesn't mean you can't take one making $75,000 now.  

Pivoting in your career is about prioritizing the right experience for you at the right time over the linear career path, things that look good on paper, or titles that impress at happy hours.  Just because you've been doing something doesn't mean you need to keep doing it if it no longer fits.  If I'd followed that line of thinking, I'd be sitting in a stuffy corporate law firm somewhere miserable and unfulfilled.  Pivot, iterate or rebrand yourself into who and what you truly want to be.


Employees have a lot to learn from entrepreneurs, even if they never take that leap themselves.  Try incorporating these three steps into your professional life and see how your career grows.