The Independent Business Professional Thrives!
by Rick Sidorowicz

The ‘virtual’ organization is alive as more and more business professionals make the leap  to ‘independent’ employment status (by choice or otherwise) and as organizations tap the growing resource pool to increase their capabilities, flexibility and performance. 

Turbulence and change!

Organizations and individuals are faced with a brutal and unforgiving reality of turbulence and change. The pace is relentless. The changes taking place are profound and permanent. The employment relationship is changing as organizations and individuals alike are faced with the challenge of becoming more focused and flexible, and accelerating their capability to innovate and adapt to new and unique circumstances. Success and indeed survival for organizations and individuals now require the capabilities of agility, innovativeness, creativity, courage, and accelerated learning. Individuals and organizations that strengthen these capabilities will thrive and excel. Those who ignore the dangers and the opportunities will remain mediocre at best. The capabilities to adapt positively, quickly, and creatively are now vital for success.

The set of skills, attributes and attitudes of the independent business professional are precisely those needed to respond effectively within a turbulent environment of change. Individuals who choose to work as independent business professionals as opposed to working in a corporate environment usually do so out of a need or vision of personal growth, challenge, independence and accountability for performance often unavailable within traditional business structures. Individuals who become independents not by choice also very quickly adapt to the reality of self reliance, personal accountability and performance. 

The paradox of performance is interesting for both corporate and independent professionals. Individuals who to want to increase the likelihood of remaining employed within a corporate environment must now adapt and develop the skill set of the independents. And as independents gain experience and perspective they become extremely important elements of a corporate organization’s strategy to adapt to and manage change. The skills of the independent contractor are precisely those needed by individuals and organizations to be effective today - to respond more effectively and to achieve superior levels of performance and results.

There is a profound difference in working as an independent professional without a safety net. The difference is real, and shows up in attitude, action, and results. The challenges facing an independent business professional are not unlike (or more accurately, they are the same as) the challenges facing businesses today. How to get and keep customers; how to deliver meaningful value and make a reasonable return; how to differentiate yourself from competitors; how to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances and demands; how to ‘get stuff done fast’ and right the first time; how to seek out and position yourself for opportunities; and how to learn faster to stay ahead or at least keep up.

The skill set of independents is that of ...

"doing business."

Some of the ‘basics’:

Marketing
Profiling customers, contact management, targeting, positioning, persistence, patience, experimentation, creativity, innovation, learning, failure, more failure and more learning, fast!

Project management
Planning, organizing, monitoring, leading, focusing on deliverables, using high productivity tools, communicating effectively, managing processes, achieving results, fast!

Project membership
Participating fully, engaging and creating alignment, clarifying roles and objectives, teamwork, ‘fitting in,' moving the action forward, delivering, communicating , driving to completion, fast!

Professional service
Managing the context, living the contract, being ‘of service,' providing tangible and meaningful outputs, executing with confidence and precision, ongoing self development, offering a broader perspective, always conscious of delivering value, fast!

The central premise is that independent business professionals do ‘it’ better, where ‘it’ is the delivery and execution of performance, service, and results. 

The context is that of ‘performance,' in the up-front, tangible, meaningful delivery of value and substance for the customer. What is also notable within this context is the absence of many or most of the limitations and nonsense that keep bureaucracies stuck in a ‘slot filling’ mind set of mediocrity and resistance to change.

A few definitions: 

Independent
Self reliant, not employed on a permanent basis, no regular paycheque, self governing, free from the 'control' of others.

Business
Trade and commerce, commercial enterprise, action, work, service, performing, getting ‘stuff’ done, doing something.

Business Person
I like Tom Peters’ picture of the ‘business person’ as an individual who does it all - budgets, forecasts, customer service, marketing, quality control - like an independent entrepreneur or small business man or woman. I also like the analogy of a business person simply being any person, who in the course of his or her daily life balances budgets, coordinates, manages, schedules time and activities of kids, husbands, wives, little leaguers, plans for major expenditures and retirement, travels, coaches, counsels, and generally gets "stuff" done with multiple competing demands and priorities. Perhaps ‘doing business’ or being a ‘business person’ is not so special after all. Perhaps it is quite normal and natural for the majority of the population to deal with multiple competing demands and priorities and to get ‘stuff’ done ... fast! (of course!).

Professional
Engaged for pay, not amateur, doing it for money, specialized attributes, services, techniques, having ethics, a sense of standards, doing it right, doing the right things, doing it well.

Independent Business Professional
Being self reliant and getting ‘stuff’ done for money.

Individuals and organizations share a common challenge of adapting quickly to new and unique circumstances and discovering and re-inventing how they can create and deliver real value to their customers. The message - if you are an independent, your time has arrived ... if you’re not an independent, start acting like one ... if you want great performance, start hiring independents.


Rick Sidorowicz is the Publisher and Editor of The CEO Refresher and
the Minister of Culture of High Performance Retail.

Many more articles in Performance Improvement in The CEO Refresher Archives

   


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