How To Be Your Company’s Rising Star (Even If You’re New)

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“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.”

– Ann Landers

I loved my job as the golf event coordinator at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Spa. It was right down my alley. I enjoyed welcoming the groups, meeting new people, planning out every detail of their golf outings and receiving top satisfaction letters when they left. I felt like I added a tremendous amount of value to the resort, but I also saw some holes and opportunities for professional growth. Since I believed so much in the resort, I wanted to advance to a sales role. This would enable me to sell corporate golf outings to the groups I was already meeting with and attend trade shows to ensure that all companies were considering Innisbrook to host their future golf outings. I thought it was a win-win.

When I finally gathered up enough courage to ask my supervisor for a sales role, he shot me down on the spot because I had no sales experience. That day I swore to myself that if I ever became a manager, I would never deny a team member’s request to take on a new professional challenge or opportunity. While rejection is never pleasant, I never regretted my decision to ask for the promotion. If anything, this experience motivated me to seek out new opportunities that would allow me to hone my skills.

If you’re an employee working for a small business or any size company, you may be missing out on great opportunities right under your nose. Here are three tips for any professional who wants to move up and earn a promotion as quickly as possible.

  1. Recognize what is working. Something has to be working if the company is producing, hiring and paying you a salary. Take some time to jot down the positives that you recognize within the organization.
  2. Reflect on the areas that need improvement. Maybe the company has a solid book of business or a great reputation, but you feel a sales team would impact everyone tremendously. Perhaps you’ve noticed that the company’s growth in sales has resulted in a decline in the attention and support that clients used to receive. Whatever the situation, don’t sit idly by. Analyze what’s working and what’s not. In the areas in need of improvement, look for gaps that present opportunities for professional growth.
  3. Put together a plan that involves you. This is a great opportunity to make yourself invaluable to a company. Put a plan together that you can review with the manager, owner, or the person you directly report to. Your plan should identify the issues, outline steps that need to be taken to resolve them, and how these actions will benefit the company. For example, “I think we can double our sales goals by next year. If given the opportunity to take on a sales position, my plan is to develop a new book of business and begin building a sales team over the next 90 days. I project that these actions will grow our numbers by X%.”

As a small business owner, I can almost guarantee that demonstrating this type of mindset and approaching your supervisor with a plan will eventually result in some type of professional advancement at the company, whether it’s in the form of a promotion, raise, or leadership role. Stepping up will also help you gain invaluable experience for your own life and career, no matter where you go in the future. Why not learn new skills, hone the ones you already have, and see what you are capable of while getting paid? Seize every educational opportunity; unlike college, the “University of Life” won’t require you to take out student loans.

The bottom line? If you decide to work for a small business, be prepared for a lot of changes. Yes, a larger corporation may be able to offer you a higher starting salary, but the standard protocols for fiscal advancement, like an annual three percent raise, pale in comparison to the possibility of doubling your paycheck by carving out your own path at a small biz (with the right mindset).

When I talk with small business employees who identify issues at the company they are working for, my advice always the same: Recognize the problem areas and base your role around fixing them. In many cases, that might entail creating an entirely new role or stepping up from the one you currently have. Step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself – you won’t know unless you try. There is no better way to gain the experience you need to achieve the lifestyle you want.

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