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How to know which type of workplace lets you thrive

(ENTREPRENEUR) Everyone wants to be a part of a productive, rewarding company, whether as employee or founder, but how do you find that?

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Different strokes

Everyone thrives in different ways, enjoys different types of activities, prefers different kinds of environments. Duh.

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And that diversity is what makes the world go round – we can’t all be neurosurgeons or astronauts or painters or anything else, and most importantly, we don’t want to be.

Everyone wants to do well

I think it’s safe to say that everyone wants to be a part of a productive, rewarding company, whether as employee or founder. And everyone would probably like to be at their best at work, supported and challenged by colleagues. Saying you want to thrive at work is like listing “having fun” as one of your hobbies:

the point is how you have fun, and how you work best.

So how do you figure out the kind of company, the kind of workplace culture, that’s best for you? According to Bill Taylor of the Harvard Business Review, there are four main types of high-performance workplaces.

Community-based

Channel the Three Musketeers while you’re at work by prizing trust, collaboration, and loyalty over all else. Though this kind of workplace values customers, partners, and investors, employees are number one. Kent Thiry, the CEO of Davita – a Colorado-based health care provider – says his company is a “community first and a company second.” He goes on to explain: “We have flipped the means and the ends. Having an adequately profitable business is the means.”

“Building a real community of human beings is the end.”

If you need to feel at home when you’re at work, a community-based workplace might be the best place for you.

Star-studded

Picture the opposite of the Three Musketeers, and you get this type of workplace. It’s every maniacal employee for themselves, and competition is a way of life. This kind of workplace is made up of a bunch of success-obsessed superstars, and it makes for a tough environment.

But if you’re talented and you like to dream big (and actively pursue those dreams), this kind of workplace could be the ideal place for you to thrive.

Investment banks and hedge funds often operate this way, and some law firms, consulting companies, and tech giants also embrace the competitive drive that forces employees to sink or swim. Mark Zuckerberg famously said, “Someone who is exceptional in their role is not just a little better than someone who is pretty good. They are 100 times better.”

Doing good

This kind of workplace is all about the large-scale impact of the employees. People who work in this kind of environment are often self-effacing and willing to sacrifice for the good of customers and other stakeholders. This doesn’t necessarily mean the organization is a non-profit out to save the bees or revive public education.

But this kind of workplace is mission-driven.

A great example is USAA: a financial services company that only – only – does business with active and retired members of the military, and their families. Employees of USAA are passionate about service, and that commitment to the customer has helped USAA maintain and grow a loyal base.

Little and mighty

Some workplaces are a maze of hierarchy and protocol, and good work can get lost or mangled by the process. If you crave a sense of urgency in your work – not just a deadline, but an impetus to ideate and act – a small workplace with few obstacles could be your place to shine.

The revenue may not be massive, but it also could be a jackpot.

Sometimes the size of your workplace only guides your job satisfaction, not your company’s performance.

Now it’s time to take stock of your current organization, or the organizations you’re applying to.Click To Tweet

Are they driven by the things you want to drive you? Don’t just exist at your job, thrive. Look for the kind of company that will better your best.

#Thrive

Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films - preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Business Entrepreneur

How to spot when it’s time to go full freelance

(ENTREPRENEUR) There may come a point when traditional work becomes burdensome. Know how to spot when it is time to go full freelance.

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Freelancing is often thought of as a mythical concept, something that is almost too good to be true. While it isn’t all about hanging out at home in your pajamas all day, being a freelance is something that is completely possible to be successful – assuming you do your homework.

Recently, a friend of mine who is a licensed esthetician was no longer happy with her position at the salon and spa she worked for. The set hours were becoming a burden, as was having to divvy up appointments between another esthetician within the salon.

She noticed an increasing number of people asking her if she could perform services (eyebrow and lip waxing) from her home, as they preferred not to go into the hectic salon. My friend also found an increase in requests for her to travel to bridal parties for their makeup, rather than the parties coming into the salon.

It was around this time that my friend began to seriously consider becoming a freelance esthetician, rather than a salon employee. After about six months of research and consideration, she decided that this was the best route for her.

Below are the reasons she felt ready to pursue this option, and if they resonate with you, you may be ready for a full time freelance career.

1. She had a number of built-in clients and a list of people she could contact to announce her at-home services. Doing this at the start of one’s career would be very difficult without a contact list and word-of-mouth references, so it’s important to have…

2. …experience! My friend had worked for a number of salons over the years, and had the experience of working with all different types of clients. She also learned what she liked and didn’t like about each salon, which were pieces that factored into her own work-from-home space.

3. Since she had years of experience and had done all of the necessary aforementioned research, she knew what was expected of her and knew that getting a freelance career off the ground wouldn’t be a walk in the park. Operating a freelance career is completely on you, so you have to be 100 percent dedicated to making it work – it won’t just happen for you.

4. Once she began thinking about this idea nonstop and became more excited, she knew it was time to move forward. At first, the “what ifs” were daunting, but became more positive as time went on. If the idea of being a freelancer elicits more smiles than frowns, definitely take the time to consider this option.

5. In addition to the clients she already had, she also had an amazing support system who helped her develop her freelance brand and get her at-home business up and running. Having a solid group of people in your life that will help you is crucial, and any offer for help should be appreciated.

Other things to consider are: do you have enough money saved in case the freelance venture takes longer than planned to take off? If not, maybe stick with the day job until you feel more financially secure.

Jumping into something too quickly can cause you to become overwhelmed and drown in the stress. Make sure you’ve covered every single base before making this leap. Good luck, freelancers!

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Business Entrepreneur

Hobby to profession: The new-age entrepreneurs

(ENTREPRENEURS) Turning your hobby into a career is harder said than done but a few knitters are putting on a clinic on how to do it.

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I’ve often heard the advice that you should follow your passion, and eventually, someone will pay you to do it. But the truth is, turning your hobby into a career is easier said than done. The process by which a person turns a hobby into a business is poorly understood by experts – at least partially because it’s so difficult to collect data on this topic. In order to separate the lifelong hobbyists from the entrepreneurs, you’d have to trace the activities of many hobbyists over many years to understand how their paths diverged.

An MIT Ph.D. candidate has hit upon a novel way to research the transition from hobby to entrepreneurship by following Ravelry.com, a social media and pattern-sharing platform for knitters and crocheters, often known as the “Facebook of knitting.” The site encourages crafters to keep track of and share their projects, tools, techniques, and patterns.

The Washington Post reports that by analyzing over 400,000 profiles on Ravelry.com and interviewing 100 knitters, found through an additional newsletter and three blogs, Ph.D. candidate Hyejun Kim was able to draw some interesting conclusions about what can “cause someone to flip the switch from ‘fun’ to ‘profit.’” Only 1.5 percent of Ravelry users become entrepreneurs who sell their own patterns, knitted items, or yarns. What sets this small number of knitters apart?

Although the internet provided the crucial data Kim needed for the study, it was, in fact, real-world connections and encouragement that turned out to be the tipping point into entrepreneurship for most knitters-turned-business-owners. When asked why they decided to start their own businesses, most reported that they were encouraged by their friends and spouses.

Most of the crafters who became entrepreneurs were already very skilled knitters, to begin with. Kim was able to isolate a number of knitters who joined in-person knitting groups like Stich ‘n’ Bitch. Those who joined a group were 25 percent more likely to become entrepreneurs than those who didn’t. That’s because their crocheting comrades would compliment their creations, boosting their confidence and inspiring them to take it to the next level.

It shouldn’t be overlooked that 96 percent of Ravelry users are women. The forces of sexism in the world of startups and the undervaluation and domestication of women’s handicrafts likely combine to give women the impression that their skills and talents are just for fun and shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity to make money. Kim’s research shows that when it comes to entrepreneurship, sometimes talented women just need a nudge in the right direction.

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Business Entrepreneur

Teach kids music and they’ll learn entrepreneurship

(ENTREPRENEUR) Sowing the seed of music education and appreciation in your child when they’re young is a great way to produce the fruit of entrepreneurship when they’re older.

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With all the focus sports gets as the petri dish for producing driven adults, I’d like to offer up a different extracurricular activity for your consideration: music. Supporting your child as they learn how to harmonize with others will help set them up for success later in life, as music cultivates many of the characteristics that entrepreneurs rely on every day.

Iteration

Anybody who’s played an instrument or been a part of a choir can tell you that the number one thing you’ll learn in a musical group is that you won’t make it unless you practice, practice, practice. Although in the moment it’s not that great to hear little Timmy or Ginny run through their C-scale a hundred times, a few years down the line when all those hours of iterating result in the lilt of Beethoven through your household, you can be sure that your kid has learned that repeating the little steps helps them achieve large goals.

Showmanship

A large part of being a successful entrepreneur is knowing your markets, or your audience, and able to keep their attention so that they come back to you when they need your business. Being a part of an ensemble not only teaches children to be comfortable in the spotlight but to crave putting on a show.

Teamwork

When young musicians come together to play in a band or raise their voices in a choir, they’re learning a lot about how to collaborate with others in order to achieve a goal. When a young alto sings alone, her notes may sound strange without the soprano tones filling out the melody. The duet that comes from them learning to work together and complement each other builds a strong foundation for any team venture your child will encounter later in their careers.

Competiveness

Although music provides a solid foundation in harmony, it also contains just as much grit and competition as the football field. Music groups compete in regional and national championships just as athletes do, and solos offer opportunities to self-select and advocate. Hell hath no fire like a second seat musician who dreams of being first chair.

Self Confidence

Unlike sports, music is accessible to those who might struggle with finding confidence. There are no “best” requirements to play—regardless of height, weight, and other characteristics that nobody has any control over—nearly anyone can pick up an instrument or find their voice. This perhaps may be the greatest gift that you can give your child, the confidence that no matter what they look like they can excel.

As your child begins to consider the different activities that will help them build toward their future, don’t discourage them from pursuing a musical path. When they have to stand in front of an audience of their peers and deliver a presentation with an unwavering voice, they’ll thank you for the years they spent getting comfortable in the spotlight. Especially if they pursue entrepreneurship!

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