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Home > Audio, Podcast > Are you prepared for whatever might happen?

Are you prepared for whatever might happen?

February 22nd, 2008

Listen: Are you prepared for whatever might happen?

Career Opportunities podcast logoAre you prepared for whatever might happen?

Here is an interesting question…what would you do it you found out tomorrow that your job, or even your entire career was going to disappear? I know, this is an extreme event that will probably never occur, but imagining extreme events can help us better formulate plans for the future. If we can handle the most extreme possibility we can imagine, then we can handle nearly anything.

I don’t bring up this topic merely to scare you. Instead, I want you to understand that thinking about extreme possibilities can lead to some very productive changes in your day-to-day career. While your career may never disappear in your lifetime, contemplating the possibilities can help you to cope with company closures, outsourcing, off-shoring and other career issues that you can little control. Too often, we put off thinking about such issues until they are suddenly thrust upon us. This is never the best time to be formulating plans, though.

If you might think you career path is stable today, there is one important question you must ask yourself…Can someone else, somewhere else, do your job faster or cheaper? Be honest with yourself. If so, you career is not secure and you need to be looking for ways to increase your security before your company, or industry, figures it out. Can you change your specialization? Can you find a way to personalize your service? Can you develop an entirely new career that is more protected against the cheaper, better, elsewhere realities of the world?

If you might think you career path is stable today, there is one important question you must ask yourself…Can someone else, somewhere else, do your job faster or cheaper?

Here’s a personal example. I know in my own computer consulting career, I haven’t experienced a lot of competition from the Geek Squad and other technical support operations for one important reason. When a customer, new or current, calls me, they know that I will be the one performing the work. They don’t have to develop a new relationship with every service call. Sure, these groups can offer services I cannot, but over the years I have developed a particular niche in my geographic area that helps to maintain my customer base. What can you do to create your own niche, within your company or in your own consultancy? What holes have larger companies left in the market that you can more easily fill? You don’t have to change careers, if you can find a way to take your career to a different level.

Next, what if your entire career or skill set is in danger of disappearing? Impossible, you say? Ask a COBOL programmer or a network manager specializing in Novell Netware. Technologies go out of style every day. You want to be involved in a growing technology, not one that has reached its peak or beyond. Again, you have to be honest with yourself. As a computer consultant, large parts of my knowledge are rendered obsolete with every new software and hardware release. While this might feel threatening, it is simply part of the world we live in. Look to your own career? What processes, knowledge or skills are in danger of becoming obsolete…or are already nearly worthless? Worse still, are you still holding onto old ways of doing work, when you should be looking to new tools and new methods. That is sure to lead to problems, as well.

Now, with your new thinking in mind, where can you direct your attention to better prepare you for the future? What technology, what businesses, what skills would place you in a better position? What would happen if your job or career disappeared today? Do you have a plan, or would you be shocked into inaction? This is exactly why we all need to take the time, at least twice a year, to review our future plans and readjust our focus. Planning should always be done when we are feeling comfortable and secure, so that when change strikes in a large way, we already have a plan to address them.

Next Friday: February 29, 2008: Personal networking isn’t optional anymore

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  1. February 22nd, 2008 at 15:00 | #1

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Robert Michel

  2. March 5th, 2008 at 05:54 | #2

    Thanks for all the information here! I advise a lot of small business computer consultants starting their own businesses, and I know one of the most important things about the process is coming up with a strong business plan far in advance of actually opening up the doors of your business. Also, choosing a specialty and a computer consulting niche that is going to give you enough clients in your area is going to be critical to helping you achieve longevity. I think if you have a good business plan that you revisit and reshape regularly and have chosen an area of specialty that is going to give you a good stream of prospects and clients you will have a much better chance of being able to roll with the punches. In terms of doing services “cheaply,” I think one of the biggest mistakes I see new computer consultants making is trying to compete with the Geek Squad or large corporate “factory”-style business model – selling services in terms of price. What this will attract are price-sensitive buyers that will never pay what you are worth as someone providing sophisticated, professional services. And you’ll also find yourself having to work an insane amount of hours just to make ends meet.

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