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Run Your Career Like A Business

Updated: May 29

As a legacy strategist, Executive and Business Coach Elona Hlatshwayo from BizPreneur believes that you grow your legacy by running your career like a business. This means that you have to take the reins of your own development firmly in hand.


Executive and Business Coach Elona Hlatshwayo.

Elona says that people often ask her for help because they say: “no one is promoting me at work”.

“You can’t wait for someone else to create strategies for you. When you shift towards taking ownership of your own career journey you can make a lot of progress towards tangible growth – with timelines – much like a business,” she explains.

You also have to be conscious about your professional brand image and how you market that brand and self-image. The ship isn’t going to sail itself – you have find entrepreneurial and creative ways to grow your career and legacy. Just like a business, it means continuous learning and growth, as well as leaving a legacy through which many others can benefit from.

Growth strategy

Elona says that this strategy makes it easier to struggle through bad career patches and that hard times call for strategic thinking and a resilient mind-set.

“I’ve been in a work environment where I’ve felt undervalued, underdeveloped and underexposed. Being told you are not ready, yet people with less experience and qualifications get the roles you’ve been told are not suitable for you. Have you been in such a situation? It is really demotivating, you know! Even as a coach, I’ve had to work very hard to penetrate some of the previously locked markets.”

But since Elona had a strategic intent, she understood that those hard days were more than just ‘a bad day’ at work – they were attached to her growth strategies.

“I see this in my clients, too; the uphill becomes more worth it if you understand where this fits into your overall journey. I stayed in [toxic] work environments, because I was clear on what I was learning there and how it was leading me to the next step. But if I didn’t have a roadmap, I would have missed opportunities to grow in the way I did because the people were not ‘nice’… yet, nice was not part of the goal list I had when I joined.”

She also had to understand her own value and that of the work she did. “Time is money. I had to value my time and the time allocation to specific deliverables, activities and projects.” She would see each goal as a project, and each milestone an activity within the overall project. My roadmap is activity-based and costed appropriately, in terms of time and resource allocation. Strategic planning is key, and knowing where to run to for help is even more critical. Remember, you are building a lasting legacy.”

Sticking to your roadmap can also help you make major career decisions. For Elona, it was resigning from a comfortable corporate job to start her own practice, while her peers climbed the corporate ladder. “There were times when I questioned myself about walking this less-charted road; but my drive to build something that was exactly how I had envisioned my mark on people’s lives – my legacy ­– kept me going.”

Know your career destination

“One key thing I always advise my clients is to be clear on where you would like your ‘destination’ to be. This could be a five to seven-year journey. If you know that, then the road map (with two to three-year pit stops) will be easier to map.”

“If your long-term plan is to establish yourself as an expert, your next roles should not be generalist roles. The engagements that you accept should all be opportunities to lead you closer to the goal of being a recognised expert. The mentors you approach for mentorships and the money you invest in your personal development should all be focused on this goal.”

Elona says that without this clarity of purpose you may find yourself six years down the line into a vague seven year-plan frantically trying to do it all within a year.

Thriving post Covid-19

In the next few months and years many people will find themselves unemployed. Elona advises to use that time to “check what is in your toolbox”.

“One key thing is to not spend every day, all day sending CVs and watching your inbox or phone for replies. Set a daily schedule and get to work. Work on yourself; set time for personal development (read); sign up for some free online courses (e.g. EdX, Google Digital Skills for Africa, FutureLearn, etc.); update your CV and send it out; and look after your wellness (rest, exercise).”

Unpack your toolbox

  1. What do you have to offer the current job market?

  2. When did you last update your CV?

  3. What can you do to upskill yourself in the meantime?

  4. Can you write content to help build your personal brand?

  5. Where can you volunteer and share your skills?

  6. Work on your network and see what opportunities may be available for you through these networks.

  7. Update your LinkedIn profile, join groups and see what freelance opportunities you can find there.

  8. Make yourself visible. No one can hire you if they cannot find you.

Do the above self-development during the time you get no responses from your applications so that when you finally do get an interview or a job, you are at your best.

For more advice, reach out to Elona on www.bizpreneur.co.za


Author: Leanne Feris