#Asia 5 lessons that will help you take control of your career

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Be a risk-taker, seek out your strengths, acquire new skills and don’t let your company define you

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Considering all the new ways to work (which I’ve written about here), you might assume that big corporations and their employees are on the endangered species list. In fact, a Deloitte study finds that only 35 percent of Millennials would choose to work for a large global business. However, most Americans still work for big businesses. More than half of American employees work at a company with more than 500 employees.

I’ve found a common characteristic among the people I’ve worked with in the corporate environment: Even if they’re not interested in leaving their current company, many are stuck, unhappy or at risk of being downsizeed. And that’s because, unlike entrepreneurs, many professionals are allowing their corporation to dictate their career path – a mistake that can render them obsolete. Here are five assumptions I see professionals make and the entrepreneurial mindset shift that can help bolster their career.

Mistake number 1: letting the corporation define you

Entrepreneurial shift: Understand and telegraph your personal brand and strengths.

Often, corporate employees follow a career path and skill progression based on what their company needs, not necessarily what’s best for them as individuals. It makes sense — a company assigns projects based on business priorities and opportunities, without focusing on or assessing the strengths of individual employees. But this is also why many people are put into specific job roles and end up struggling or even failing.

Also Read: How mentoring takes your career to the next level

To avoid this scenario, first heighten your self-awareness. Do a deep dive to figure out how you’re being perceived within your organisation, and then understand exactly where your strengths lie. Entrepreneurs focus on work that leverages their strengths to maximise their impact on the organization.

Most corporations don’t devote the time, effort and energy to figure that out for you, so it’s your responsibility to discover how to capitalize on your strengths. Two great tools I recommend are StandOut and StrengthsFinder. I especially like StandOut because it gives you actionable advice on how to make an immediate impact and what to watch out for when working with others.

Mistake number 2: becoming complacent in your role

Entrepreneurial shift: Start taking risks.

Even in a traditional career with a clear path, it’s vital to extend yourself by taking risks. Seek out assignments that are just outside your comfort zone. Volunteer for a special project that raises your profile inside your department or within the broader organization.

Entrepreneurs know they need to push their limits. Their success depends on it. Inside a corporation, if you don’t show that you’re willing to get uncomfortable, your employer might decide you’re content where you are, squashing your career ascension.

Mistake number 3: staying inside the corporate bubble

Entrepreneurial shift: Explore what’s happening in the greater marketplace.

Corporate bubbles can be geographical (you never leave the corporate campus) or attitudinal (you start to hold a myopic view of your job function based on your company’s norms).

Also Read: Jobbatical wants to combine your wanderlust with your career goals

That’s why it’s vital to get out in the market to meet peers and compare notes. Read blogs and articles or listen to podcasts to learn more about your industry and competitors, or seek out differing viewpoints. The broader your horizons, the more nimble you’ll be. Entrepreneurs are constantly discovering best practices outside their microcosm, and you can do the same.

Mistake number 4: neglecting your network

Entrepreneurial shift: Start networking. Now.

A new career path is through your network, and the time to build it is now. It’s not uncommon to talk to smart, seasoned professionals who have been impacted by downsizing or internal change and realize they have literally no network. Remember this: When you need your network, it’s too late to build it. Entrepreneurs know this, and they’re constantly seeking out advice, partners, mentors and people with different perspectives. Set a goal to meet with someone outside the company once a week — or even once a month — and change your perspective on your current role and your career options.

Mistake number 5: assuming your company will handle your professional development

Entrepreneurial shift: Control and invest in your career.

Find opportunities to stay current in your discipline without relying on your company. Invest in yourself, whether it’s through a seminar you invest in after hours or a podcast you listen to while you commute. It’s critical to invest in your career, whether to prove your value to your own company or to break into a new one.

Also Read: Hiring a Millennial can become your cup of tea too

By shifting your thinking and acting like an entrepreneur, you start controlling your own destiny. Growing and learning is second nature to entrepreneurs, and must be for every professional who wants to stay ahead of the game.

Brendon Schrader is founder of Antenna, a Minneapolis-based marketing firm that delivers experienced marketing professionals to companies of all sizes. 

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organisation comprising the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship programme that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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