Respect, job satisfaction, accolades and earning enough to support a comfortable lifestyle. This is the dream that every person in the corporate business world wants to achieve.
However, there are no shortcuts to success in the business world – you really need to put the effort into growing and refining your skills to get ahead and achieve your business career goals.
Expert advice is one of the essential ingredients to shape a career in business that has not only longevity, but the ability to provide lifelong satisfaction. Entrepreneur and Director, Valerie Khoo says "Tenacity, vision, and a willingness to take risks are essential for a great career in business. You also need to be passionate about what you do, as well as have the determination to ride out the tough times. And you need to be adaptable to change because there will always be curve balls thrown your way."
So how do you get ahead in your business career?
The secret to succeeding in business lies in the skills you use to gain your competitive edge. This can lead to elusive career opportunities, higher incomes, generous bonuses and perks. You can achieve all of these within the first 15 years of your business career if you master the following essential business skills.
1. Perfect your business pitch
The difference between ordinary business people and extraordinary business people lies in their ability to pitch. If you look at some of the leading business magnates like Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs or Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, you can see how they used their ability to captivate and sell their ideas, concepts, vision and business propositions to key stakeholders and customers. You can learn these skills too.
Not everyone is born with the natural ability to pitch effectively, however it is a skill that can be nurtured. Read our guide to nailing your elevator pitch here. By refining your pitching technique, you will be able to earn more career opportunities, close more deals and make more money by consistently selling your ideas, products or services to your target audience.
2. Demonstrate your value to earn what you’re worth
It’s a sad fact of the business world that many people fail to earn their desired salaries, promotions and bonuses during the course of their career because they don’t know how to demonstrate their value to their employers. Many people “sell themselves” based only on their personal needs to earn a higher salary – normally for their lifestyle. Often, they fail to focus on the years of experience that they have in their field – which is their “real” selling point.
Employers want to invest in people that will be an asset to their organisation. So, you need to learn how to sell yourself to employers.
• Show how you can add value to the company’s business operations
• Explain how you can reduce their business costs with your skills
• Reveal how you can help improve productivity for the company
• Demonstrate how you will be creating new opportunities for the business
• Show how you can improve the business sales income and “bottom line”
Remember, it’s your responsibility to make sure that you are adding value to an organisation.
Executive Chairman at Stephenson Mansell Group, Virginia Mansell says, "Be proactive, initiate, be confident with requests and sell and promote yourself when opportunities emerge. Embrace and be comfortable with fast-paced change."
Ensure that your role adds value to the coordination, management and execution of any business development activities that is being conducted by the organisation.
3. Commit to continuous learning throughout your career
Remember that it’s critical to keep your skills current, particularly in the fast paced world of digital disruption. Editor of Human Capital Online, Iain Hopkins, explains that continuous learning is always part of the process. "Commit to lifelong learning. This is something people will roll out within their own organisations, but frustratingly they will not follow their own advice themselves!"
The more you learn, the more you will earn. People who focus on upskilling will remain relevant in their industries, whether they specialise in HR, project management or administration.
Business magnate Warren Buffett said, “The best investment you will make in your career is the investment in yourself.”
Arm yourself with information by:
• Learning the tricks of the trade from seasoned business professionals
• Keeping up to date with the latest news, journals and media publications
• Following industry blogs
• Following social media influencers in your industry
• Participating in forums and discussion groups
• Attending trade shows and networking events
• Investing in industry courses and accreditations
• Doing relevant courses to learn new skills
4. Attract more opportunities by raising your business profile
To really succeed in your career, you want to aim to be the businessperson that is always in demand. In every industry, there is an inner circle whose individuals are the first ones to attract the most lucrative opportunities. If you want to have an ‘exponential leap’ in your earning power, it is essential that you raise your perceived profile to appeal to more employers.
You can achieve this by:
• Positioning yourself as the ‘go to’ expert in a niche in your industry
• Publishing articles, whitepapers and presentations on relevant industry blogs
• Contributing to relevant industry magazines and journals
• Contributing to relevant industry podcasts
• Getting yourself recognised for your efforts with relevant awards and accolades
• Getting positive PR in the media (TV, radio, newspaper, blogs)
• Getting endorsements and referrals from credible people in your field.
5. Hone your organisational skills
As the old saying goes, in business, time is money. Your productivity is linked to how well you organise and manage your time, so you should learn to cultivate this skill. You may face a situation where you need to multitask or prioritise several urgent projects in order to meet deadlines and achieve your targets.
Some effective ways to improve your organisational skills include:
• Keeping a ‘to do’ list or a ‘work in progress (WIP)’ spreadsheet
• Prioritising your tasks in order of importance
• Setting and meeting deadlines for all of your tasks
• Minimising clutter to avoid creating distractions
• Organise your time to check notifications (e.g. emails, mobile phone messages) to avoid distractions
• Keeping your files well organised
If you want to supercharge your organisational skills, try enlisting the help of technology. There are so many awesome tools, gadgets and apps available to help. Here are some fantastic apps and tools we have found.
6. Make sure you set clear business goals
James Cash Penney, the founder of JCPenney, said, “Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I will give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I’ll give you a stock clerk.”
Those who master their planning skills guarantee their path to success in the future. Learn how to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
The level of success and wealth that you will earn throughout your career is directly related to the skills that you can apply in your business role. By developing these skills, you will successfully achieve the business milestones, earnings and accolades that you want over the course of your career.
Are you ready to achieve your business goals? Discover more expert business advice from some of Australia’s top business professionals here.