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Figuring Out How Your Job Contributes to the Bottom Line
Once you’ve learned the core profit strategies of your business, it will be relatively easy to figure out how to make the work you do essential to its financial success.
You can get a good idea by asking yourself this: “In the eyes of upper management, is the job I do considered (1) nice but unnecessary, (2) necessary but not of much interest to them, or (3) essential to the growth and profitability of the business?”
Be honest. If, for example, your job is in corporate communications, you are in the first category. If you work for the accounting or legal department, you are in category one or two, depending on what you actually do. And even if you are in the marketing, sales, or product development area, you can’t be sure that the work you do is considered essential.
Know this: If what you do is beneficial to your business but unnecessary, you have no job security, regardless of how well you do it. Even if the work you do is critical to the operations of the business, if you yourself don’t create profits, you are at risk.
So long as the business is thriving and you work hard and well, your salary will go up. But the moment things turn bad or you can be replaced with someone else who can do the same job as well for less money, you will be out the door.
As I’ve said, this is not true for someone who demonstrably generates growth and income for a business.
Growth and income producers are viewed as not just good but necessary and desirable. By making yourself one of the few people in your company who know how to bring in the bacon, you give yourself the greatest chance of getting big raises, big promotions—and, eventually, earning a six-figure income.
Here’s a simple test to determine how essential you are to your company. Answer the following questions:
• Have you created a successful new product/service in the past year?
• Do you have bottom-line responsibility over a product, group of products, or division? If so, was it profitable last year? And will it be as or more profitable this year?
• Are you directly responsible for sales or a team of salespeople? If
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so, did your department meet or exceed your boss’s expectations last year? Will you do it again this year?
• Have you come up with several new sales-boosting ideas lately?
• Do you personally generate sales of more than 10 times your salary?
• Are you in charge of an important marketing or advertising function? If so, did you meet or exceed your boss’s expectations last year? Will you do it again this year?
• Have you made at least one suggestion this past month about improving the company’s marketing or sales strategies?
If you answered yes to at least several of these questions, you are where you should be—in the profit stream of your business. If you couldn’t answer yes to any of them but still feel that you are capable of making a major contribution to your company’s bottom line, you’re going to have to make some changes.
Modifying Your Job to Become a Critical Factor
Your plan is to gradually shift your work activities so that you are gradually doing more and more of one or several of the core, invaluable jobs:
• Making sales
• Creating products
• Managing profits
The idea is to keep your present job while you make the shift. And you’re going to do this with the full knowledge and support of your current boss.
If you leave your boss in the dark, you risk making an enemy of him or her. And that would be damaging to your plans. So in everything you do from this point on, consider how it will affect your boss.
If the boss is a reasonable person you will be able to explain what you are doing and why. If he or she understands that you will continue to offer support and do a good job, the boss shouldn’t be threatened by your ambitions. Most important, be sure your boss understands that your future success will make him or her look good. The boss was, after all, your mentor and inspired you to make a career with the company. Because of your boss, you will help the company make more
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money. The boss will get a lot of credit from the people responsible for his or her raises.
But before you have that conversation—if you have it at all, you need to identify a job in your company that you want to do.
Identify which people in your company make the most money. Then find out exactly what they do and what skills they need to do a good job. It may seem like a stretch at the moment, but it’s entirely possible that you could one day do the same job. After all, all of the most highly valued skills—marketing, sales, product creation, and profit management—are not particularly specialized. Yes, they require knowledge, but it’s the kind of technical knowledge that any bright, ambitious person can acquire.
Starting today, try to learn something about that job every week. Find out what it takes in terms of hours and days. Discover what it typically pays and when it pays more and why. Identify the daily routine, the common problems, the biggest challenges, and the best rewards. Ask. Observe. Read.