New to Business Planning? Start With a Basic Business Plan

Why would you want to write a basic business plan as opposed to a more elaborate one? Most business owners I know struggle with the idea of writing a full-blown plan for their business. To be completely honest, writing a plan for anything, let alone a business you own or intend to start, is challenging because…

1. we don’t know where or how to start
2. we want our plan to be perfect the first time we write it – as in, we don’t want to make any mistakes
3. we don’t like to write – and let’s face it, writing a plan involves writing.

I’m going to share with you ways to overcome each of these hurdles. But before you do anything, allow yourself to break the process of business planning into small steps.

The first step is to have a basic plan which will serve as the foundation for a more detailed and comprehensive plan down the road.

How to Start Writing Your Plan

What goes into a basic plan? Well, let’s first define a basic plan as a plan for the bigger plan you will arrive at later on.

Here are the essential questions you need to answer:

1. What do you want to gain by writing this plan?

Is this plan an internal plan which you will use to guide yourself or your team towards achieving specific and measurable targets? Or are you aiming to attract potential investors? Is this something you would like to take to the bank to propose a loan for your business?

Begin by examining what your specific goal is for writing your plan.

2. Who is going to review my plan, and what do you want them to do with it?

You need to identify who is going to actually study your plan, and what they are going to do with it. If it’s yourself, then it’s a little easier to answer this question because the answer lies within you.

If, however, you are writing your plan for others to review, and assuming you’ve answered #1 above, you’re going to have to do some background analysis.

Start listing names or titles/positions of people who you expect to review your plan. Then, for each person, brainstorm how you want that person to react to your business plan – what they should do with it.

You could do the same thing for investors – do you know any business owners? Ask them what they would look for in any business venture they would invest, and specifically what they would look for if you wanted them to invest in your business.

3. What is the core product or service your business offers to buyers?

To answer this, write down the product or service you intend to offer as simply as possible. We’ll answer more detailed info about it in the following questions.

4. Who is the ideal customer for this product or service?

Really, ideas for business are a dime a dozen. You often hear people talk about a great business idea they have, but they rarely back it up with any kind of proof that a customer exists for such a product or service, and that that customer would be willing to pay.

Try to be specific in profiling your buyer. For example, does your product or service cater to men or women, or both? What age groups or income levels does it service/attract? Are there any geographical areas that your product or service would supply?

5. Is there enough demand for your product or service?

This is something you’ll want to investigate in more detail as you develop your business plan. At this point though, what’s important is to do some preliminary research. Searches on Google, Hoovers or Bizminer will help you study a particular industry, and you can often drill down your research to a particular state or city. Your search at Google is of course, free, but you’ll often find for a small investment at sites such as Hoovers or Bizminer, you’ll get meaningful data for your market vertical, which you can start analyzing right away.

It’s also not a bad idea to survey buyers on their purchase behaviors and perceptions towards your product or service. Arranging a questionnaire or focus group can give you some useful insight into how potential buyers react to your product or service.

If it’s reasonable, consider giving away product or service trials and then follow-up to evaluate user expectations and experiences.

If you don’t have demand for your product or service, it really doesn’t matter how great it is anyways, right?

6. What existing problems or needs does your product or service solve for your customers?

This is one of the most important questions to answer, because ultimately, your product or service is just another one available unless it clearly and uniquely solves a problem or need which buyers face.

To give an example, let’s say your product is a software application that helps you manage your finances and taxes. There are a few applications in the market which do that already. So, what does your application do that others don’t? Is it better on features, is it faster? Is it more secure? Is it more user-friendly? Is it more portable? Does it really help someone save money or increase their net worth?

Can you see why getting clear on the solution you offer to your target market is so crucial?

7. Who are your direct and indirect competitors?

You really should gain at least an initial understanding of who else is offering similar products or services to your target market. It’s good to know how their products or services are currently used and perceived – why people buy them, and why they don’t. In doing so, you begin to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors from the consumer’s perspective.

Depending on what your product or service is, you can find all kinds of information about user experiences with your competitors’ offerings. Sites like Amazon let you see product reviews by customers who bought products.

8. What do you need to get your business rolling/growing, and what will it cost?

This is arguably the most painful part of business planning. Yet, what is the point of having a plan if you don’t know how it all adds up financially? You may not know how to put all the numbers together on your own. If that’s the case, invite or even hire someone to help you sort out the numbers.

Aside from any potential revenues earned from sales of your product or service, you’ll need to know your fixed expenses – what it costs you to run your business whether or not you sell a single item, and your variable expenses – what it costs you for each item sold.

Naturally, in the early stages of planning a business, you will be doing a lot of forecasting, and your numbers may not be as accurate as you’d like them to be. So, you’ll want to be as conservative as possible about how much revenue you’ll generate and how much your business will cost to run.

9. Putting your plan to action – what are the key steps you need to take?

At some point, the plan needs to hit the road! The plan is no good if it doesn’t help you take action. So a simple action plan should be included – what needs to be started and completed, when and who will do it, all need to be mapped out at least at a basic level.

Having an action plan will also help you get excited about your business venture, as you can see how it comes to life.

10. How can you improve your plan?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you have a basic blueprint of how your business is going to look at the early stage.

Remember, your first step is to prepare a basic business plan that serves as a foundation. From this foundation, you will want to further explore areas which need more analysis and testing, while some aspects of your business venture merely require you to get started and measure how things are going.

The Best Free Business Software I Have Used for Start Up Businesses

We all like that idea of starting our own business. To be our own boss, work when and how we choose, be inventive, get satisfaction form our own work efforts. We all like to do that.

But there are only two ways of getting started in your own business.

Firstly, you can buy an established one which means you need the purchase price or be able to borrow it.

Or secondly, you can start it yourself. But you still need enough money to pay for start-up costs and ongoing running costs of the business until enough income is generated to make consistent profits.

In all cases you need capital funds. It’s easy to go broke and it’s probably the main reason why businesses fail, namely insufficient capital funds.

The best way to preserve your capital funds and make it less likely to fail is to use services which cost nothing or cost as little as possible.

That’s where free online business software and tools come in!

These can literally save your business thousand of dollars if you learn how to develop and use them correctly. And the internet is full of online freebies readily adaptable for your business.

I will cover some of them here that I have advised my accounting clients to use as an alternative to more costly alternatives. These have helped their businesses grow and flourish.

A business plan should be prepared for any business you start. It sets down on paper how and in what direction it’s going to take.

This is the hardest part of starting a business and it’s up to you how much detail you want to document. It can be one page to a hundred page plan. I think for most purposes the shorter the business plan the better.

Free templates and software to prepare a business plan are available online, either from government funded organisations like the SBA. Go to their website and search business plans.

Or from other online sites like Bizgym.

Or keep it simple and write down a “One Page Business Plan”. Template samples can be found online by Googling One Page Business Plan.

Computer security is next and one of the most popular anti virus programs that offer a free version is AVG.

Using this and being aware of spam and websites that contain viruses will save you a lot of lost data and effort in the future.

Your business must also be compliant with taxation laws. For that you must record all your business transactions and keep all source documentation to substantiate the transactions.

So you’ll need an accounting package. This not only keeps the Taxman happy but it’s an invaluable record of your business’s activity and can supply you with reports you can view to see how your business is performing.

Wave Accounting is one of the best free online ones I have seen and though American it can be adapted for other countries that have GST or VAT taxes.

The best thing about it is it’s online, so you can access it from any computer you like and all data is stored online.

For an Australian version of a free accounting software package you can try ‘Freeaccountingsoftware’ site, and it’s called Free Accounting –

Marketing is at the very crux of any business success, so you have to start advertising and make yourself known to everyone as soon as you can.

A website is a requirement for any business these days, so it’s the first marketing effort you try. The cheapest way to create a website online is to build it yourself.

This can be done with a website builder. The easiest, quickest approach here is to get an internet service provider that has a good website builder wizard included as part of the package so you can start building for free.

The best option I have come across is to use an internet service provider like Bravenet. Their hosting cost is $99 per annum and the website builder wizard they provide free is the easiest one I have ever used.

Other free ways to market your business is to sign up to website business directories that offer a free listing. Sign up for as many as you can and if you find one that gets you clients or customers you can even start paying to upgrade for a better listing position.

Some of the well know online business directories are:
Gumtree
Hotfrog
TrueLocal
AussiesRus
Free-Business-Direcories.com
AussieWeb
Aussie Pages
Our Patch
Shopseek.com.au
13Find
Dlook

Even sign up for your free listing in your Yellow Pages and White Pages as they also list your business online now.

Printing business cards to hand out to prospective clients and customers is good marketing. To get you started with this Vistaprint allows you to order up to 250 free business cards at a time.

Backup and storage is another important issue for a business. One way to solve this problem is to use an online backup service. There are many that you can sign up with that allow you up to 2GB to 5GB free online storage.

Dropbox, is an example of one of these. It’s also great at syncing the data stored online with that data on any computer you have the Dropbox application installed on with that account. No more wasting time in daily backup routines.

Communicating with clients and customers is great way of keeping them as clients.

This can be done free with Skype, which I have found to be one of the best free software I have ever used. Free phone calls, free video calls, free IM, free file sharing. If you want to also phone them on mobile and other phones then you can buy Skype credits that’s a lot cheaper than what telecommunication companies charge.

The best of all free online software for business is Google Apps.

It has everything you need in software applications and it’s a great free replacement for Microsoft Office. They now allow up to 10 users free. It used to be 50 users free but being so successful and popular they have lowered the free cap.

You get free docs, spreadsheets and calender applications, custom Gmail, webmaster tools, Google places and many other applications that can be found in the Google Web Store that are useful business and collaborative productivity tools.

I hope what I have covered in this article can be use by you and save your business a lot of money. But remember you are the driving force behind your business. If you buy paid proprietary versions of any of the free software and business tools I have covered here always make sure the cost incurred returns you much more than you pay for.

How to Improve Business Performance: Top Business Growth Strategies and Business Coach Tips

A business coach can help you revitalise your business, introducing new concepts and business growth strategies. Find out below how a coach that constructively challenges your business strategy and approach could be a key factor in your business growth.

Business Coach Tip #1 Working In the Business or Working On the Business Strategies?

A business leaders energy, ideas and strategies are bound to lag or go stale at times – this is a harsh fact of business life. Senior management can easily fall into the habit of working too much “in the business” and too little “on the business”. Appropriate external input can help them strike a better balance.

The day-to-day operational demands of a business often appear more pressing than devoting time to working on your business growth strategies. However future business success will suffer if insufficient time and energy is devoted to strategy development. Strategic prioritisation is a discipline that defies many.

It’s always tempting to put off things that appear to be less urgent. However if we continue to do so we will never see to those things that are important to the business but perhaps less urgent. High growth companies strike a viable balance between logical business reactivity and strategic business proactivity.

It can be difficult for company leaders (especially company founders) to seek and embrace external challenge or input, however those that do so have a far better chance of taking their company into thrive mode. A good business coach will help you generate and execute effective business growth strategies.

Business Coach Tip #2 Vision, Culture & Purpose to Improve Business Performance

Where do you want to take your business and what will it take to get it there? A question that many business leaders might find difficult to answer well. Are you driving your business or are you allowing your business to drive you? Are you firmly in the driving seat or being driven by day-to-day circumstances.

A company without a compelling, well communicated business vision lacks a true sense of purpose or direction both for the business leaders and for the employees. Yet many companies pay insufficient attention to this key area, letting everyday business demands dominate over strategic quality time.

A company without a true sense of purpose or direction severely limits itself. The staff culture may become more about individual self-interest than about the business, unhealthy silos may be created and customer best interests overlooked. This is a vicious cycle and often the start of the downward spiral.

The above scenario is obviously to be avoided if you want your business to thrive. However as companies grow, the culture challenges become greater and the more negative sides of human nature can kick-in. A good business coach can help you avoid or address this to improve business performance.

Business Coach Tip #3 Attract & Retain Talent to Feed Your Business Growth Strategies

What makes your company one that talented people would be drawn to work for? Intelligent talented people want to work for management they can respect and learn from in companies they can be proud to work for. Get this right and your company should have no problem attracting the right people.

Not everyone is prepared to make a positive contribution and any successful leader knows that they must not only add talented contributors, but also remove non-contributors. A good philosophy is to lead by preference and manage by necessity (sometimes even managing people out of the business).

It’s people that make a company and they can make it successful or unsuccessful. Good people are a company’s most valuable asset and those business leaders that recognise and leverage this grow more successful and lasting businesses. Your business coach can help you create the right culture.

Business Coach Tip #4 Business Growth Strategies to Improve Business Performance

Most companies lose their way at one time or another. Some manage to renew themselves going on to even greater things (thrive mode), whilst many others struggle on (survive mode). What differentiates those that thrive from those that struggle to survive? Receptivity to experienced external input is one key.

Let’s consider the factors that cause companies to falter. These may include a solution set out of step with market demand, a sales approach that fails to gain enough customer traction or a business vision or culture that is no longer inspiring. An external eye can help you identify and address the core issues.

Successful business growth strategies are not easily devised, demanding considerable thought and input from multiple sources. Why restrict your potential by denying yourself a catalyst that brings structure and inspires fresh thinking and approaches based on relevant skills and direct experience?

An effective business coach constructively challenges your ideas and approach and may sometimes take you out of your comfort zone. This pragmatic coaching style is essential to drive the changes needed to execute the business growth strategies that will progressively improve your business performance.

Business Succession and Protecting Your Business Partners

Business Succession

Would you have the funds to purchase your business partners shares in the evnt of death?

Or would the business have to be sold?

If the business is sold by the deceased’s beneficiaries, how would this impact on their estate as their assets increase? How would it also affect the surviving business partner’s assets as these too increase? Both parties’ estates could be impacted by Inheritance Tax in the future, having now lost any Business Property Relief previously available whilst the company was still trading. With the sale of the business you risk losing 40% of the cash proceeds to the tax man.

Perhaps you have made some provision for this eventually

You may feel that you have prepared for the worst and taken out sufficient life cover to protect all parties’ shares of the business. You may even have had the presence of mind to set up a Company Will and a Cross Option Agreement.

This would ensure that the surviving business partner/s has the right to buy out the deceased’s share of the business and the proceeds of the life assurance policy could be paid to the surviving spouse or beneficiaries in exchange for their inherited share of the business. Equally, the surviving spouse or beneficiaries would be able to exercise their right to sell this share of the business to the remaining business partner/s in exchange for either the market value or an agreed amount covered by a life assurance policy.

What about the impact a standard cross option agreement has on someone’s estate?

If you or a business partner dies their share will pass to their spouse or beneficiaries through their will. This is now deemed to be part of their estate. Whilst this share is held and the business continues trading then the assets could be exempt from Inheritance Tax if they qualify for Business Property Relief (BPR). Once the Cross Option has been affected then BPR is no longer available on the proceeds i.e. from any life assurance. The spouse’s assets assessable for Inheritance Tax (IHT) have now increased by the funds received from the life assurance policy risking 40% of the proceeds to IHT, which dependent on the size of the business could be a significant loss.

These assets are also now at risk from attack from any future remarriage claims, creditors or bankruptcy and Long Term Care costs

What about the consequences a standard Cross Option agreement has for the surviving business partner?

With a standard Cross Option Agreement the surviving partner now owns 100% of the company. This is fine whilst the business is still trading and whilst BPR is still applicable.

However, what would happen when they decide to sell the business?

Now their personal estate will be increased to include the proceeds from the sale, as for the spouse this leaves them wide open to attack from Inheritance tax, creditors / bankruptcy, divorce settlements and long Term care costs.

Many companies like ourselves offer business estate planning tailor made to suit you and your business. It takes the Standard planning options available on the High Street a significant step further. Wills planning provides the potential significant protection to the business and reduces the possible impact of Inheritance Tax dramatically. Furthermore the business and proceeds from a future sale of the business is protected for the bloodline from IHT, remarriage, creditor claims, Nursing Care Fees.

Our Planning leaves each partner or director’s share of their business to individual Family Trusts through appropriate Clauses written in to their Wills.

Furthermore the appropriate Life Cover will also be assigned to ‘Shareholder Trusts’ so that these proceeds do not impact on the surviving individual estates.

Once the Cross Option has been executed, the proceeds from any Life Assurance policy replace the share held in the deceased’s Family Trust(s) and so do not form part of the beneficiary’s estate. These funds are now protected against any of the risks named above and the surviving spouse and beneficiaries still have full access to the Trust assets.

So how does this benefit the remaining business partner?

The surviving business partner still retains their original share of the business but the deceased’s partner’s share is passed directly into a Shareholder Trust(s) from where the Life assurance proceeds were originally paid. The surviving Director still has the fullest of control on the business as he is a Trustee of the Shareholder Trust(s).

The Shareholder Trust(s) can also be utilised as a further efficient income tax planning tool. Now that a proportion of the business is in the Shareholder trust(s) any dividends paid into the Trust(s) could be distributed to beneficiaries of the trusts who may well have nil or low rate income tax.

Career Changes – Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Make Your Move

Extensive thought should always be given to the expectations and ramifications of a career change. Whether you are an entry level professional or have been working for decades, a career change can result in major life changes. Although I heartily agree that you should love what you do, careful thought and planning will ensure a career change is the right step for your professional and personal life. The questions below address important factors to consider before starting your decision making process.

1. Why do you want to change careers?

Is the change sought for money, status, economy, or maybe boredom, office conflicts, or it is a desire to work in a different profession? Money is always an issue and in some cases must be the deciding factor; however, those individuals usually end up still unhappy with their career. Researching factors such as job expectations, stress levels, and hours you’ll spend on the job and the amount of expected travel to make sure your expectations are accurate. Lastly, examine your current options to see if there are any alternatives to making the change. Could you change your attitude on your current career? By setting new goals you may be able to you are improve your circumstances and positively manage career boredom or office politics.

2. Will this be the right job for you?

Have you thought through what your day will be like? What skills you will be using? What will be expected of you in terms of skills, activities and responsibilities? Thoroughly research what the atmosphere and work environment will be like as well as what the job entails. Is this how you want to spend one third of your life? A great tool to help identify your behavioral preferences is a behavioral assessment analysis such as the DISC Behavioral Profiling Assessment. Proven to be accurate more than 80-85% of the time, the DISC Assessment is very effective in discovering strengths and weaknesses in your preferred behavioral style. The results can be utilized to understand what types of work patterns, skills, and environments you prefer and are a great tool for learning how to communicate more effectively and for improving professional relationships.

3. How will the new job affect your family or personal life?

A new career is not only a major change for you but can also mean changes for your family or personal life as well. Check to see what the average work week will consist of; will there be longer hours or more travel? What will you or your family be giving up and what will you be gaining from the change? Is it worth it? A balance in professional and personal life will help keep both areas of your life healthy and enjoyable.

4. What are your career expectations for growth potential and/or promotion?

Look into the possibility for advancements and determine if there are areas for promotion, available opportunities to take on additional responsibility and potential to make more money in your new chosen profession. Changing careers often places you back at a lower seniority status. You may start with a decrease in income from what you are used to and if there are layoffs or cuts made you may be the first to go. If this is going to be the case, make sure you have a sufficient nest egg set aside to handle unexpected changes.

5. What does the career change say to future employers about your commitment capabilities?

Is this your first career change or is this something you have done before? If you have made similar changes in the past it may appear to an employer as a lack of dedication or focus on your part. Employers spend a great deal of time and resources hiring new employees and they expect their employees to be willing and able to a make long term commitment. Review your professional history and prepare positive interview responses regarding changes in past professions or positions. If this is your first career change prepare to show your career progression and always offer a positive spin on your past decisions – even if they were wrong you can still show what you learned and accomplishments you achieved along the way.

There are many more questions that can be asked of you before beginning a career change. For some a change will improve quality of life and it will be easy to determine if a career change is the right decision. For others, these questions will hopefully provide insight and help in making an informed decision. Either way it is important to take the time to think about the reasons for wanting a change and affects a career change will have on you and those around you.

Small Business Accounting: How to Choose an Accountant

A small business is an enterprise that is usually small in scale in terms of number of employees and/or sales revenues. A large majority of the businesses in the United State are small business. These businesses are usually registered as sole proprietor, meaning one individual owns it, or partnership, meaning 2 or more people owns the business.

One of the problems facing a small business is in terms of accounting. With the limitation in funds, some accounting is done by the business owner. The entrepreneur is tasked to run the business and at the same time handles the day-to-day accounting requirements of the company. Because of this, the company is often penalized by the government for late payment of taxes, late submission of tax documents and at times, non-submission of tax forms. Also, the business can also be penalized for erroneous computations of tax dues. The business owner has his/her hands full with running the business that handling the accounting requirements can be turned over to another person.

A business owner can hire an in-house accountant or he/she can outsource the small business accounting work to a CPA firm like Desert Rose Tax & Accounting. An outsourced accountant can sometimes be more beneficial than hiring an employee because it is less expensive to outsource than to hire. Also, the outsourced accountant doesn’t need a designated space while an in-house needs his/her own space in the office.

In choosing an accountant to handle small business accounting for the company, some tips can be useful. Before opening a business, the business owner must have a ready accountant. Since a CPA requires a license before he/she can practice the profession, one has to make sure that he/she has a license. The accountant must have experience in the kind of industry the business is in.

Also in a small business accounting setup, before hiring an outside CPA make sure that one knows how much the accountant charges. Fees charged by CPA firms can vary widely. It is good practice to compare the accountant fees with industry standards. The accountant must be able to fill the needs of the company. Before hiring an accountant, one has to interview at least 3 or more prospective accountants so one can compare which among the three will best serve the company’s purpose.

In handling the accounting needs of the company, the business owner must ask the prospective accountant about other possible services he/she can offer to the company like sales tax and payroll tax reporting services. Some Certified Public Accountants offer business advice to help the enterprise grow.

Also, the accountant best fitted to handle the small business accounting is the CPA whose accounting firm is also small. Accountants who own small firms understand how small businesses are run. They also have the time and resources to share with the business owner. It’s one thing to have a fancy degree in business and another to have practical experience running a small business. In the event that the business owner sells the business, the accountant must be good enough to discuss with the owner how to go about with the sale so that tax liabilities are minimized.

Prior to signing up an accountant for the small business accounting, the business owner must ask the accountant for client references so that the owner can investigate. One must also make sure that the accountant establishes a business relationship with the owner, meaning the accountant has time to visit the company every now and then rather than just seeing him/her only when it’s tax filing season.

Future Success Starts with a Winning Career Plan!

A winning career plan for future success through effective written career planning.

“Committing your goals to paper increases the likelihood of your achieving them by 1000%.” Brian Tracy

Jack had worked at Wal-Mart for over four years and was in his early 20’s. In the past year he was promoted to department manger in his local store. His education ended at high school although he had gone to a junior college for one semester.

He had visions of someday being a store manager but had no idea how to advance his career to that level. What did he have to do to get his career on track to the store manager level? Working hard? A lot of very capable people work hard every day but never seem to get anywhere. No, the real effective focus lies elsewhere.

If you want to promote your career to two or three levels above your current position lets follow Jack as he builds a workable and efficient career plan. We already know he enjoys the job and the interaction between the employees and customers. He’s not afraid to work hard and he works smart because that’s the reason he got promoted to department manager.

First, as Brian Tracy stated, the goals have to be put on paper. Jack’s goal is to be a store manager but there is an intervening step, that of assistant store manager. So let’s work with Jack at putting his career plan together. Here’s Jack’s career plan:

1. In the next 30 days have a meeting with the store manager to determine what qualifications are needed to get promoted to assistant store manager?

2. Complete the department manger computer training modules within the next 60 days.

3. Read two books a month on motivation, retail finance and other areas of effective supervision and management.

4. Spend time every day becoming familiar with the sales and other data important to managing his department and the entire store.

5. In the next 45 days get to know at least four personal things about each employee that works for him and each store department manager.

Depending upon the outcome of number one above Jack will have to add whatever the store manager advises him to complete. If he finds he needs to complete certain activities in a set period of time to qualify to be an assistant manger that will be added to his career plan. He will then write them out and take number one off the list. As a matter of course he should plan on talking with his assistant manger and store manager about the progress of his career plan at least every month or two and bring them up to date on his progress.

At least every three months or maybe more often Jack will have a meeting with himself. He will gage his progress and make adjustment to his career plan as required. On thing he learned when he writes out his career goals is to put the goals on index cards and have one on the visor of his car, another in his check book and another in his pocket. He plans on reading his career goals at least five times each day.

With this career plan Jack is well on his way to moving to the next level at Wal-Mart. Further, he is building the foundation to qualify himself for a store manager’s position. Developing your personal career plan is not difficult if you quantify each step, don’t get too far in the future, and write out your career goals, step by step.

Preparing For a Life With Multiple Jobs and Careers

In his ASU commencement speech this week, President Obama urged graduates to be prepared for more than one job or career in their lifetime. His recommendation was “to keep gaining new skills – possibly even new degrees; and to keep taking risks as new opportunities arise.”*

Although our leaders in various fields have been expressing this for years now, I meet many people who haven’t quite stepped into this career paradigm shift. The fact that many aren’t sure how to prepare themselves for job and career transitions is understandable since we live in a demanding and transforming culture with few rituals, road maps, instructions, and support for people during or regarding change. There is a growing amount of information, expertise, and support for people IN career transition, but on a foundational level, how do we stand in this new paradigm powerfully so that job and career transitions start to become more organic and fluid?

Acceptance: To prepare ourselves as career marathon runners who’ll likely make many stops, we first must step into accepting and absorbing that a career paradigm shift is happening within our culture as a whole. Although it can be difficult to imagine changing careers for many reasons, assessing whether this is likely to be a reality for you is ultimately the more empowering and energizing place to operate from. The problem with ignoring or denying something that is likely to occur is both that we loose the ability to steer our own lives and we often find ourselves ill prepared for change that comes our way.

Preparation: To elaborate on one of the essential points of President Obama’s speech – staying in a place of learning and discovery in your day-to-day life is vital. This learning may mean an additional degree, broadening your skills within your desired field, or engaging in extracurricular learning activities. Whatever you choose to explore, the more you connect yourself to learning and growth-oriented activities you love, the more likely you will start to create possibilities for new jobs and careers in areas that you deeply enjoy in your life. In both my work as a business executive and in my work as a Life and Career Coach, I have met numerous people who’s thriving careers sprung from a single extracurricular class, hobby, or life-long interest that was initially pursued by carving a small amount of time out of their schedule.

Flexibility & Openness: Getting comfortable with change is vital as well. If you’ve ever taken a first yoga class, you’ll remember what it’s like to marvel at the flexibility of others around you while you struggled to sit comfortably. Remaining flexible and open to career development opportunities and career change in general takes practice, practice, practice, but the more you practice, the better and stronger you feel. So, try and embrace new technologies and new ways of doing business, accept new work assignments, and stay open to job and career changes…the more you do, the more one thing will start leading to another naturally, and the more fluid transitions will be.

A Longer Vision: Start to think of your degrees and job experiences as important personal building blocks rather than things that define you within a singular career. In addition, imagine the kind of life and financial security you’d like in retirement and keep this image in mind when you make job and career decisions going forward. A long-term career vision that is rooted in what you really value and desire for yourself will help you plan and strategize for your life.

Career Advancement And Career Development

Modern developments in the field of human resources, however, have thrown both business managers and workers for a loop. The demands of businesses nowadays, are not the same as that of businesses in the past. Now, companies need innovative, creative, and multifunctional people in order to survive.

The advent of the internet and computer technologies, for instance, has put paid to archaic hiring criteria. Now, human resource managers need computer literate employees. Whereas in the past, you could get hired as long as you had the requisite education and experience needed for the job, you can lose out to someone who has less experience but is more technology-savvy than you are.

These developments in the field of human resources are becoming more and more apparent. In fact, you’ll find it very hard to find people who stay with one company for decades. More and more, people gain corporate experience then look for greener pastures (not necessarily in the same field or the same career path) or establish their own business.

Implications for Career Advancement and Career Management

Career advancement and career management, instead of becoming obsolete, have actually gained even more importance. If people can expect to change companies and even jobs many times in their working life, they need to plan and manage their career even more if they are to advance.

Career advancement now, however, can no longer be perceived as linear. Increasing career transition tendencies indicate that one can advance horizontally (moving from one field to another) rather than vertically (moving up the corporate or career ladder). Career advancement, nowadays, means acquiring skills that may be necessary in the future.

For career advancement to be possible, therefore, career management should be rigorously undertaken. We must never stop learning and training for new opportunities. We must never be content with what we know now. Rather, we must look forward and learn what we need to know to prepare us for a possibly different future than what we have once envisioned for ourselves.

This is not to say, however, that we should just go into any career without thought nor planning. We should have a definite plan, but it should be flexible. For instance, you can group various career paths that you can imagine undertaking – then manage your career in such a way that you’ll find it no hardship to move from one path to another then back again, if necessary. Career advancement and career management have simply changed face, that’s all.

Tips on Selecting the Right Career

Self-assessment is the first step in career exploration as it is essential to take list of your interests, values, skills and overall personality. This step leaves you with a set of careers that are suitable for you based on your personal assessment. The next step is to learn about the career in your list. But it is not good to eliminate any career option from the list till you do research about it. By doing preliminary research you will be able to narrow down the list to some extent. So, for the remaining career options in the list you can do a detailed research.

The main aim in learning about different careers is to shorten the list to one career that would be the best for you. For exploring the career options you need basic information like employment statistics, job description, training requirements, and the overall job outlook. You need to keep in mind that career is not just limited to earning money but it to achieve progress in one’s professional life. For some people choosing a career is very simple as it is inherited through legacy. However in this case too, they need to take effort not only to identify their career but to pursue a successful career.

Normally students start thinking about their career right from high school. There are various fields such as Law, Finance, Accountancy, Medicine, Engineering, and Management etc. Proper planning and choosing the right line of study will definitely help in selecting their appropriate career accordingly. Your career does not end with just choosing the appropriate line and landing in the right job. If you land on the chosen career then you must be able to manage it carefully and develop it for the rest of your working life.

You must gain deep knowledge and the essential skills required for the chosen career. You must have integrity and must climb the ladder to success. You must always aspire to achieve your goals by rising to higher positions within the organization. If you have any complacency in your chosen career then you will have to stay at the same level for a long time. You must develop leadership qualities that will make you reach to the top in your career. Your decision-making is very important and this will be a step forward in boosting your career. You must never give up and should always look out for new opportunities in your career.