In business, how do you define yourself?
When I was in the second grade, my teacher asked us to stand up and tell the class what our fathers did for a living.
One kid’s dad was a car dealer. Another’s was an accountant, something that meant nothing to my puny brain at the time.
I was stumped. My dad left the house each morning wearing a navy blazer and tie, and he came home just in time for dinner. What he did during the hours in between was a mystery.
“What do you do?” I asked Dad that evening.
“I’m a businessman,” he told me.
Turned out that my father was what you might call a professional businessperson. He wasn’t tied to any particular thing. He wore many hats, as they say. He was involved in everything from sales to personal investments.
Perhaps not so coincidentally, I followed the same sort of diverse business path.
After 15 years in a corporate job, I launched my own business. And in the life of that business, I’ve worked as a direct mail and advertising copywriter, newsletter editor, technical writer, creator of do-it-yourself marketing kits, eBook author, public speaker, brochure designer, and small business consultant. And I’m still adding “hats.”
So when people ask me what I do, I usually answer, “I’m a businessperson.”
Some might accuse me of being a “Jack of all trades, master of none.” That may be true. I’m better wearing some hats than I am wearing others.
But I’ve found that, as a rule, people who narrowly define what they do are less entrepreneurial; they cut themselves off from profitable opportunities that drift their way. Yet those who can freely move back and forth between business categories are typically more successful.
Want to be a “businessperson” instead of an automotive parts distributor, a plumber, a beautician, a podiatrist, or whatever? Take these suggestions to heart:
- Diversify yourself. Try on different “hats” regularly.
- Pursue several money-making activities.
- If possible, figure out how to make those separate activities supportive of each other. At the same time, make sure they’re not inter-dependent, so if one of your business activities fails, your entire enterprise doesn’t fall apart.