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Research Triangle Business Advisors

March 2013 Newsletter


It occurred to me that my clients spend a good amount of time planning the future of their business, but often very little time thinking about their personal career and advancement.  Admittedly, they think about it long and hard when there is a trigger like sale of the business or a business failure.  When I looked into CEO and business owner perspective on this topic I saw mixed views that ranged from "I don't have the time," to "I do what I can, but nothing is written down in a plan," to "I don't need to plan my career - it's all about the success of my business."  This month's newsletter explores the idea of doing career planning for the CEO or business owner.

Bob De Contreras




Should the CEO/Business Owner Do Career Planning?

I’m not sure that is a valid question.  Career planning assumes the business environment is going to remain consistent over the coming years.  If you stop and think about it, you know nothing stays the same for long.

Five years ago if you asked people who worked in mortgage banking, the real estate business, in print media or at Blockbuster, what they would be doing today, I guarantee you their answer wasn’t what they are actually doing now.

So, if you can’t know what the environment will look like in five years, there is not much sense in trying to predict your personal growth path in a career plan.  If you agree, then you probably come to the conclusion that most the time CEO/Business Owner career planning is a waste of time – at least in the way it is typically taught.

Let’s look at some considerations to help achieve your career advancement desires. 

A Strategy – Not a Plan

In this unpredictable environment you can’t come close to saying what specific job to target, but you can say what’s valuable and important to you.  So, build a career strategy rather than a career plan.  Start by answering some questions.  What matters to you?  Describe who you are.  Are you looking to be in a certain industry?  Consider what you decide and move forward, the path and different opportunities will provide concrete actions that are consistent with your desires.  Some of these will take the form of looking for a job, but others might be starting something of your own. 

A strategy could look like:

Considerations in Formulating Your Strategy

There are a set of basic principles that you can consider in building your career strategy:

  1. Continuous Change.  Human nature is to change constantly (we don’t like it, but change is always there) as does the environment around us.  This includes the world of work.  A single occupation no longer takes us from “cradle to grave.”  Therefore, adaptability is an important talent to finding success in the future.  Initiate change as well as accept change.

  2. Ongoing Learning.  A graduation from high school or college does not mean your education is complete.  Constant change drives the need for continuing education.  Opportunities for learning are everywhere.  Make learning a lifelong experience and you will find it easier to deal with change.  Make time in your busy schedule for education.

  3. Purposeful Journey.  It may be trite, but life is a journey.  Identifying our purpose and direction drives us to our desired destination.  But, we need to pay attention to the journey’s pitfalls, sidetracks, and build our highways to new destinations and opportunities. Do it one step at a time.

  4. Dare to Dream.  Day-dreaming about our future can help us understand what we really want out of life.  Knowing what we want and keeping it in our minds can give us the motivation we need to deal with the journey and life’s challenges.  Never stop dreaming.

  5. Connect with Allies.  Your career journey is not taken alone.  Business contacts, friends, family, teachers, neighbors and more are willing and helpful allies in charting your journey.  Use your allies and be an ally.

Who Are Your Allies?

I was amazed a few years back when I did an informal study.  I asked CEOs and business owners how many good friends they had.  Friends that they were comfortable asking for advice or simply asking for help.  The average answer was thee.  So, you are not alone if you admit to yourself that you only have three good friends.  To get to your desired career goal, you need the help of your friends – more than three friends.  But, where do you find them?  Everywhere – see the graphic below:

The bottom line is CEOs and business owners should have a career strategy that is based on their skills, needs and desires, search out their career desires with the help of allies, and take the journey one step at a time, continuously reevaluating their progress.  It’s a day-in-day-out, ongoing, never static Journey.


Cary | Raleigh | Research Triangle Park | Greensboro | North Carolina
Contents © Copyright Research Triangle Business Advisors ( RTBA ) 2012, All rights reserved.