If you’re an ambitious individual looking forward to making it in the world of business, you’ll likely have the right attitude and sufficient motivation to work your way up through the strength of your work and the dedication you display towards the job at hand. Nevertheless, hard work alone may not be enough for you to race up the ladder to those top-level positions in business. For that, you’ll need a wide variety of business skills – and you’ll need to take the necessary steps to gain them as you progress through your career. Here’s how.
Get the Education
There are naturally stories floating around in business bibles of young entrepreneurs who shunned traditional education in order to make it from the bottom to the top over the course of unorthodox and fascinating careers. But these tales are exceptions that prove an otherwise very important rule: you need to get the right education to make it in business.
This means studying one of those core business-ready degrees that’ll help you perfectly acclimatize yourself to the demands of a high-pressure business role when you emerge from university or college. You might choose to go for a business degree, or to specialize in finance, economics, marketing or management – the choice is yours. Don’t forget that online accredited mba programs in business are also an option for those who studied an alternative degree but wishes to convert that into an impressive business qualification.
Put in the Hours
At the start of your career, you’ll have to face up to the fact that you’re going to have to perform a wide variety of tasks that you feel are slightly below you. You’re going to have to put the hours in, in other words, at the entry-level positions that you feel overqualified for. As elders in the business world are keen to remind the younger crop: you have to start somewhere, and patience at that stage in your career is vital.
While it’s perfectly possible that this will mean you’re reluctantly performing basic jobs, like data entry or communications management, you should take this inevitability in your stride. Try to make the most of your time at the bottom, by making friends and contacts, and by asking for extra and more complex work to add to your responsibilities. Always ask for extra training if appropriate, and maintain at all times a cheerful and upbeat attitude. These things get noticed.
It’s easier said than done, but earning the respect of those that you work with will help you rise to the level of partner or board member one day. You’ll earn the respect of your colleagues, superiors and external partners and clients through the following behavior traits:
- Unfailing reliability and timeliness, meeting deadlines and helping your team do so too
- Thoughtful and supporting conduct with your colleagues in times of stress
- Patience in the face of stress and pressurized situations
- Professional business manner, whether on the phone or in person
- Building genuine friendships in the workplace by organizing events with colleagues
All this can take time to perfect, and you shouldn’t expect to conduct yourself with the utmost professionalism inside the workplace at all times. Indeed, sometimes you’ll need to rely on others when you’re yourself overwhelmed. But with careful progress and conscientious conduct, you’ll find yourself well-liked in your job – and this has boundless benefits as you continue your career.
Don’t be Afraid to Job Hunt
It might feel easier, once you’ve got to know a company, to stay with it in order to steadily rise through the ranks. As you familiarize yourself with the staff, the company ethos and the brand values that you’re working with, you can get comfortable with the hierarchy that you’ll being plotting to ascend.
But sideways moves into other companies are often far more likely to generate the kind of promotions, pay rises and responsibility increases that will lead you to greater success and more impressive positions in companies. As such, keep yourself active on job sites such as LinkedIn, and always be open to opportunities at rival companies, should they be looking to poach the best talent in the industry pool. You resumé will look that bit more impressive, and your experience will broaden, should you make an occasional ambitious hop from one company to another.
There’s a difference between being assertive and being downright bullish. Being assertive means that you’re aware of your value in the workplace, and you respect yourself enough to get the right level of salary – and the right promotions – to keep yourself building momentum in your career. Bullishness, which in business usually comes across as arrogance and over-inflated egoism, is not encouraged, though. To guide you to the right behavior when it comes to assertiveness, you can:
- Take your worries or ideas to a manager in scheduled one-on-one meetings
- Apply graciously for internal promotions whenever they come up – but accept if others gain them
- Be honest with yourself about your expected pay grade – and if you’re worth more money in your industry, don’t be afraid to point this out to management
- Be firm with those whose behavior and work ethic is below what you expect in a business environment – but never unpleasant
- Treat clients with respect while also ensuring you’re never taken advantage of
- Be confident in sharing your best work, and taking credit for successful projects you’re involved in
Assertiveness is seen as a key indicator of success in business: use it to your advantage to climb the ladder with greater urgency.
Know When to Disrupt
Sometimes, assertiveness also means bringing new ‘disruptive’ ideas to the table. It takes a great deal of confidence to do this – and it’s not something you should do without forethought. But sometimes you’ll be excited to pitch a business idea to your superiors – and you should feel headstrong in doing this if you’ve adequately thought through what you’re going to suggest. It’s sometimes talented and audacious proposals that’ll really get you noticed and appreciated in your business career – and having the wherewithal to pitch it professionally is sure to impress those with the power to brighten you career prospects.
By bearing the above steps in mind, and working on yourself as a businessperson, you’ll be in an excellent position to make the most of your opportunities in your career to rise steadily through the ranks to become a high-ranking business aficionado.