Your professional currency – your professional value proposition – is the tangible value and ROI of your core capabilities to yourself, your company, your colleagues and your customers. It all boils down to whether you see yourself as an order-taker or an innovator. Do you want people to ask you “Can you do this?” or do you want people to ask you “What do you think about this?” There’s no right answer; the course you chart for you and your company is entirely up to you.
Creating your professional currency as a salesperson, Owner, Seller, Doer, engineer, administrative assistant, foreman, assembler – you get it – includes the process and discipline of continuous professional improvement. Do you have a process (are you an innovator) or do you expect your employer to tell you what certifications you need to receive and what training courses you need to take (order-taker)? In one scenario, you are leaving your professional development firmly in your own hands. In the other scenario, you are relying on others to direct you. Are you shortchanging yourself on your own ROI?
The tangible value of your professional currency is your ability to drive revenue through your company. Are you developing a customer base of A-List customers, the ones which bring out your best work and create the best value and ROI? Or do you have a large customer base of fickle folks who give you small orders or turnkey projects with low profit margins? In the first scenario you are innovative and aligning target customers with your core capabilities and professional currency. In the second scenario, you are like a fast-food restaurant, settling for easy accounts which clog up productivity and eat into profitability. There’s no right or wrong answer. The choice is yours.
As a professional mentor for entrepreneurs and startups, as well as for companies who want to reboot, that professional currency question is the first one I ask. “Are you an order-taker or an innovator?” Of course, all entrepreneurs see themselves as innovators; they sure need a lot of direction (orders) along the way! Mature small to mid-sized business owners are established entrepreneurs. They may be entrenched in status-quo processes and disciplines (order-taking) which prevent them from understanding and articulating the value of their professional currency to today’s market spaces.
This week, define your professional currency, your personal value proposition, based on your core competencies. What is the translational value you bring to your customers? Are you an innovator or an order-taker? Compare your two answers. Chart your course.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? is now available in eReader format; it focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools. You can download the first chapter here.