In my own professional journey working with different companies — from small-size businesses to large corporations, and helping entrepreneurs and startups — to starting my own marketing business in such a competitive market, I’ve realized and learned a lot about today’s landscape.
We live in an on-demand economy where each service is seen as a “business unit” delivering value in the form of a profit or a loss to a company. This applies to literally every business and also to every single employee. Employees are seen as business units themselves.
Employees are seen as a profit center and not a cost center.
Employees are provided with factors of production, inputs or resources and, in exchange, are expected to produce an output. In this on-demand economy, the employer is actually the customer. They invest in the workforce, expecting a positive return on investment (ROI). Skills and assets are employees’ services and paying them a salary instead of an invoice is due to internal accounting/technical reasons.
The economy has moved from seeing employees as a cost center to a system where they are a profit center, with the exception of a few tasks that deal with the internal administration of a firm.
This also explains one of the biggest emerging trends in the new generation of entrepreneurs: the rise of independent workers. More and more businesses prefer to hire resources on a performance basis when they need it. This helps to save on salaries or simply to invest in the resources they need only for a limited time.
Going above and beyond is the new standard.
If employees want to be successful in today’s world, they must make sure that they are actually doing much more than just taking care of their to-do list for the day. They need to exceed expectations and show a desire to do things right while trying to improve systems and increase the overall effectiveness of their work and the firm as a whole. Today’s employees need to be able to satisfy their customers both on the business side (i.e., managers, business owners, etc.) and the client side.
In today’s dynamic work environment, businesses have moved toward a two-way communication system, where the feedback within the company is considered more of a horizontal system than a vertical one. Feedback is valued no matter where it comes from, as long as it ultimately benefits the business.
Are companies putting too much pressure on employees?
This is a bigger topic that might require an article on its own. However, we are in a world where performance is everything. There are jobs where performance is not a key metric. However, chances are that these jobs will not be as remunerated. The desire of people to achieve more and be more successful creates an environment where performance is needed to set the benchmark of success.
People might say that if employees had to be entrepreneurs they would have opened their own company rather than being entrepreneurs of an entrepreneur. Although there is some truth in this statement, being an employee relieves the person from a lot of complex tasks that come with owning a company. These include coordinating multiple business functions, understanding how to best market your own company, paying all the bills and other critical business functions that might be stressful to handle.
The shift toward a more performance-based system is a good compromise to allow employees to rapidly progress in their careers while being their own business within a firm. Great businesses allow space to nourish and grow employees’ potential. The best football player cannot win the Super Bowl without the support of the whole team. Yes, he would still be a good player, but he wouldn’t be able to put his maximum potential to use.
At the same time, any great business talent might need the right ecosystem to flourish. Owning your own business will definitely imply having a learning curve in terms of service quality unless you have the funds to create the right ecosystem for your skills. It doesn’t matter what you decide to do — you are the “business owner” of your career. You might not want to be an entrepreneur, but in today’s world, you may need to think like one.
Entrepreneurs are passionate about what they do, not only because they give their whole selves to their “project,” but also because building a business from the ground up requires a lot of time and effort. It is exactly the same for a dedicated and driven employee. Building your own work reputation as a valuable employee is not easy and will require the same effort and dedication.
In conclusion, when it comes to being a “business unit” or an asset to any company you are rendering your services, you need to work as if you are your own business. You must respect and/or collaborate with all of your clients, both on the business and the customer side, as well as build and cultivate your reputation the right way. Do this while always showing your customer how you can help them and bring them value.
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