Whether you’re job hunting or starting a business, it’s important to play to your strengths throughout your career. By zeroing in your natural interests and aptitudes, you’re more likely to find the right opportunities and achieve success. That’s why it’s a good idea to continually refine and improve upon your core strengths.
To that end, we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council how they recommend capitalizing on those existing strengths and making them even stronger. They shared their best strategies below.
1. Pursue Certifications
You might be proficient in something, but until you obtain a certification, it is just proficiency. Gain certifications in areas that you excel in and you can build on these in many ways. No one can take education away from you, and if you are looking to transition to another career, certifications are only going to be a selling point to make you a better candidate over someone else. Early in my career, I decided to get certified in just about everything Google offered and it has been a boon to my SEO business. Get certified, and take the time to invest in yourself and your abilities. The amount of effort that goes in is also the hardest the first time; it becomes easier and part of an annual goal as well. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic
2. Keep Practicing And Perfecting Your Existing Skills
Repetition is the mother of skill. I’ve always believed in continuing to refine your skills even outside of work. If you’re a copywriter, practice copywriting. If you’re a salesperson, work on your pitch. It’s amazing how doing a little bit of work at a computer or in front of a mirror in your spare time alone can actually improve your confidence without you having to risk anything in a real-world situation. Practice makes perfect, and people don’t actually take the time to practice their jobs. I think part of this has to do with the fact that many people are just doing a job to earn a paycheck and they don’t really love it. But if you do love your job, take the time to become a perfectionist and do it right. – Amine Rahal, IronMonk Solutions
3. Spend Most Of Your Time Improving Your Skills
Achieve intensity through extensity. To put it simply, spend 80% of your time doubling down and enhancing your core strengths, whether it’s closing, sales, negotiation, engineering, inventing, etc. Keep in mind that nobody knows everything; there’s always room for self-improvement and growth. Spend the remaining 20% of your time on learning and exploring new things other than your strengths. As we are transitioning from a job-based economy to a skill-based economy, it’s very imperative to update your skills to cater to the market needs. – Kelly Richardson, Infobrandz
4. Create And Follow A Plan For Improvement
Nothing gets done without a plan. Maximizing your strengths is no exception. I found it very helpful to take a strengths assessment that identified my strengths and pointed out ways to use them in various work and personal situations. I then took the report and planned out how I was going to focus on one strength each month to more fully integrate it into my life. Creating a plan is essential; otherwise, the intention will remain abstract. – Keith Shields, Designli
5. Participate In Like-Minded Communities
Participating in like-minded communities and joining groups that share your core strengths and proficiencies can go a long way in honing your skills. Being involved in communities that actively practice and discuss your core strengths will give you the ability to refine these skills through other people’s experiences. It is always difficult to assess your own strengths, so getting feedback from these communities and groups through a third-person perspective can be eye-opening as well. This will also help you catch blind spots that you didn’t know existed. As a video producer, I am always involved in groups that give me exposure to the way other producers do things. This also helps me stay up-to-date on the latest trends and tools to help me stay ahead of my peers. – Jacob Tanur, Click Play Films
6. Read As Much As You Can
By finding business or nonfiction books by or about people who are doing or did what you’re striving for, you can see your own strengths being reflected as well as opportunities for growth. I’m currently reading The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek and I do feel I have an infinite mindset. Sinek has offered tools that make me even stronger so I can build something that will create real change and live beyond my ownership, and maybe even lifetime. – Kerry Guard, MKG Marketing
7. Increase Awareness Of Your Strengths
Many people tend to go through life wondering what their talents are and what they’re good at. And you know why they don’t ever find it, let alone turn that talent to skill? Lack of awareness and shortsightedness. You need not dribble a ball, be an actor, be a math whiz or sing opera to know you’re talented. Every single day, we exhibit our talents without knowing it. Ask yourself, “What part of my job do I enjoy and do reasonably well?” Right there, that’s your talent. If you gave more than one activity, then you have a group of core strengths. Now go hone them into skills. Find careers where you can use these talents directly or adjacently. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS
8. Take Calculated Risks To Expand Your Horizons
Too many business owners and marketers fail with their companies because they’re afraid to take necessary risks. Although you don’t want to be reckless with your business or its plan, you also don’t want to box yourself in and limit your opportunities. It’s important to evaluate every opportunity that comes your way, even those you’re certain you won’t accept because they can open you up to new ideas and perspectives you didn’t have before. This is a great way to enhance your business operations and improve current processes. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
9. Outsource All Your Non-Strengths
Outsource everything that isn’t your strength. Double down on increasing your strengths while you pass off everything that doesn’t fit within this box as quickly as possible. This can look like working with a team of co-workers to divide and conquer tasks or hiring someone on your team to manage the action that doesn’t leverage your strengths. The more time you can spend focused on building out what you naturally do well, the stronger your advantages will become, and the faster you will succeed. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
10. Work With A Mentor
Working with a mentor can help you assess your strengths and improve. Mentors generally have a ton of experience working with business owners, investors and customers. As a result, they know what the other groups expect from a strong leader. Use their advice as a way to self-reflect and figure out how you can improve on what you’re doing well. We all have room for improvement, and meeting up with a mentor can help you unlock your full potential. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC