Success in business depends on preparation. Those who wing it are those who
fail. But don't prepare just in your area of technical expertise. Prepare there,
yes. But also:
- Keep learning about your own field. There's a reason why
state licensing boards require continuing education. Apply this
same concept to whatever areas you work in. If you are licensed
as, say, a CPA, then continue your education also in the areas
of customer service, productivity, time management, and other
areas that will help you do your job better, faster, and at more
of a competitive advantage.
- Learn about related fields. For example, sales people should
learn about marketing and operations. This helps you when
promotions are considered.
- Network. Get to know people. Ask them about what they do.
Show an interest.
- Establish your presence in your professional organizations.
Join the top two or three of these organizations, and attend
meetings. Become an officer in one, and take that position very
- Play nice. No matter how good you are, your career is going
to stall if people don't like you. So show respect and be fair.
Don't worry about popularity, worry about your reputation.
- Know your business goals. Often, people let themselves get
diverted from their business goals. They start staying busy,
instead of focusing their time and other resources on their
business goals. Remind yourself daily about why you are doing
the job you do.
- Respect your customers. The customer isn't always right, but the customer
always deserves your respect.
- Differentiate. Rather than copy a competitor, offer something a little
different. But make it something worth the customer's attention. For example, is
there a small annoyance that's common in your industry but that you can
- Offer value. Don't compete on price alone; that's a race to the bottom.
People will pay for value, so provide that and charge reasonably for it.
- Keep moving. What worked even a few months ago may not work now. Don't
change your core values (integrity, great customer service, good quality, etc.),
but do examine your offerings, business processes, and anything else that
affects the price of what you sell or the quality of the customer experience. Do
this on a continual basis, and you won't get stale.