|Define Your Career or Business Clearly
The first and most important question is: what business am I in? This question is not as simple as it seems. To identify your career or business goals, you must first learn to define your business in terms of what you do for your customer or for your company. Expand the definition of your business so that it is as broad as possible. Never stop with the first answer. Take the first answer to this question and find new applications, new markets, and new definitions for it.
For example, at the beginning of the last century, those railroads that defined themselves strictly as railroads—providers of rail transport—failed to see that new technologies and methods of transport, such as trucks and airplanes, were a potential threat to their business. If they had defined themselves instead as movers of goods and people—providers of transportation—their response to the changes in technology might have been different. When you define your business, think in terms of how your products or services affect or interact with the lives and work of other people and organizations. Consider both existing customers, and those customers that you would like to acquire.
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Target the Future
The next question to ask is: what business will I be in if things continue the way they are today? Think about your career or business two years from now, then in five years. If you do not change the way you define your work or your business, what kind of work will you be doing? Is it a sound and viable strategy to continue in your current way of working or doing business, or should be looking at changing in some way? Start by imagining what business you could be in. Where would a dramatic change in knowledge or skills, products or services, or industries and markets lead you? To express it another way, if you were willing to take stock of the environment for your career or business and commit to taking action, what business could you be in if you really wanted to be?
Analyze your Market
Take the analysis a step further and thing about what business you should be in. To do this, take a careful and comprehensive self-inventory. Examine your skills, your abilities, your ambitions, your energies, and especially your heart’s desires. Then analyze the market in which your career or business will be operating. Is there a fit? If not, either evaluate the changes you would personally need to make to create the career or business that would flourish in that market, or select a more appropriate market. These questions are among the most important of your life: What changes will you have to make to become the kind of person who can live the life and do the work you would really like to be doing in the future?
What business are you in? What business could you be in? What business should you be in? What business should you not be in? What actions do you commit to take immediately as a result of insights gained in this chapter?
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