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The Era of the Unintentional Entrepreneur: An Interview with Kevin Reeth of Outright.com (Part 2)

The Era of the Unintentional Entrepreneur: An Interview with Kevin Reeth of Outright.com (Part 2)

The Era of the Unintentional Entrepreneur

    In Part 1 of this interview, Kevin Reeth (Co-founder and CEO of Outright.com) and I discussed some of the challenges and benefits of entrepreneurship and the emergence of a new breed of “unintentional entrepreneurs” – people who, because of the economic downturn, find themselves exploring the possibility of going freelance, starting their own business, or hiring out as a consultant. In part 2, we discuss some of the technological tools that make entrepreneurship – unintentional or otherwise – a viable option right now.

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    Kevin Reeth (KR): One of the good things about the timing now is that it has never been cheaper or easier to start a company from the logistics and marketing perspective. The ability to get your name out there, to get a web presence, to get online, to get people to be able to find you, has never been greater. If you just know the basics, you can use technology to better manage your time, better manage your processes, and then get paid and deal with the money. Open Source software, websites like ours [Outright.com], all this new technology has made it a lot easier.

    Dustin Wax (DW): What are some of the most effective and promising tools that are out there for entrepreneurs?

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    KR: We’re big fans of social networks for self-employed people, because what it basically does is kind formalize those informal relationships. And you can get it down without worrying about curstomer relationship software and all that stuff. Of all of them, I think for professionals LinkedIn is the leading candidate.

    Definitely get on Google and use Gmail and Google Calendars. It’s free, it’s awesome,  and you can tie it to your own domain name using Google Apps for Your Domain. Phenomenal toolset, and it’s completely free.

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    And we strongly recommend that people take advantage of free online tools to get a web presence. Get a blog on WordPress or Typepad or Blogger. If you want something a little more expensive, get a domain. Go to GoDaddy, get a domain, get cheap hosting, and get something very basic website up.

    We also recommend Craigslist. It’s a great business tool! If you have to buy anything, do not pay retail. See if it’s on Craigslist first. Companies are started and fail all the time. And they’ve bought the things you need and they’re going to want to sell that stuff. You can find a lot of stuff in great condition. Also, you can use Craigslist to promote your services for free or very little.

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    And then of course, once you do start making a little bit of money and Uncle Sam wants their piece, then we strongly recommend people take a look at Outright.com.

    DW: I think the real interesting thing right now is the way that data is being shared between different applications, like from Freshbooks to Outright. Once that stuff starts being really integrated, when you can put your LinkedIn contacts for instance into your CRM program or whatever, that’s going to be pretty interesting.

    KR: I think you hit the nail right on the head, and that’s exactly where we’re trying to take this. You see it with The Small Business Web, a site that was put together with the folks at Freshbooks and Shoeboxed and BatchBook and MailChimp. One of the greatest things that has happened in the last few years with the web is, in addition to open source software, the open movement around data flow. You see this with Facebook and  the number of developers they can get building on top of it, you see it with Twitter. Most of the success of Twitter is all the people who’ve built stuff on top of it to extend it in really new and creative ways. Making the data open and available basically creates the opportunity for the broader population to innovate on it and it creates little micro-industries. It’s a massive development and I think we are at the very beginning stages of this.

    In Part 3 of this interview, Kevin and I will discuss the program at Unintentional Entrepreneur and how they’re working to provide knowledge and support to small business owners, solopreneurs, and freelancers. Be sure to check back Monday!

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    Last Updated on February 20, 2019

    How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

    How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

    Are you stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

    Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

    • Taking a job for the money
    • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
    • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
    • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
    • Staying in a role too long out of fear
    • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

    There are many, many other reasons why you may be feeling this way but let’s focus instead on getting unstuck.

    As in – getting promoted.

    So how to get promoted?

    I’m of the opinion that the best way to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization.

    Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrated added value?

    Let’s dive right in how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position:

    1. Be a Mentor

    When I supervised students, I used to warm them – tongue in cheek, of course – about getting really good at their job.

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    “Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else?”

    This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some reality in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

    This can get you stuck.

    Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:[1]

    “Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role. I bet there was a time when this job was a stretch for you, and you stepped up to the challenge and performed like a rock star. You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong “personal brand” equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call “a good problem to have”: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done “too” good of a job!”

    With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

    In Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

    Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

    Let’s say that project you do so well is hiring and training new entry level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, making hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

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    Is there anyone else on your team who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

    1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
    2. In becoming a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower then to increase their job skills.
    3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job.

    Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Be ready to explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

    2. Work on Your Mindset

    Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is well explained by Ashley Stahl in her Forbes article. Shahl talks about mindset, and says:[2]

    “If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you–not the job–who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”

    In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

    Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

    Share with your supervisor that you want to be challenged and you want to move up. You are seeking more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and will develop with some additional projects and coaching.

    3. Improve Your Soft Skills

    When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills:

    An article on Levo.com suggests that more than 60 percent of employers look at soft skills when making a hiring decision.[3]

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    You can bone up on these skills and increase your chances of promotion by taking courses or seminars.

    And you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor, either. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

    Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has the position you are seeking.

    Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of her meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what her secret is! Take copious notes and then immerse yourself in the learning.

    The key here is not to copy your new mentor (think Jennifer Jason Leigh in “Single White Female.” Just kidding). Rather, you want to observe, learn and then adapt according to your strengths. And don’t forget to thank that person for their time.

    4. Develop Your Strategy

    Do you even know specifically WHY you want to be promoted anyway? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one year, five year, or ten year plan? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what?”

    Sit down and do an old-fashioned Pro and Con list. Two columns:

    Pro’s on one side, Con’s on the other.

    Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

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    Look at your lists and choose the most exciting Pro’s and the most frustrating Con’s. Do those two Pro’s make the Con’s worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want.

    The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. –Mark Twain

    Mel Carson writes about this on Goalcast that many other authors and speakers have written about finding your professional purpose.[4]

    Here are some questions to ask yourself:

    • Why is it that you do what you do?
    • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
    • What does a great day look like?
    • What does success look like beyond the paycheck?
    • What does real success feel like for you?
    • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

    These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your Vital Work Friends over coffee.

    See, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. And you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

    Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose. And like Mastercard says, that’s Priceless.

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    Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

    Reference

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