Dear Uncle Matt

I was just wondering: I am tired of my job that I’ve been at for six years. Believe me, I’ve been trying to transfer out but with no progress. Why is it so hard to move up? I’ve even been taking courses for my bachelor’s degree in business administration. I’ve also been very interested in working on my own home business. I created a domain for a website and have no idea what to offer on it. Do you have any advice for me?  

Dear No Name, 

You are in the same rut as a lot of other people, so to get out you have to distinguish yourself from the pack. At work, look at the people who are transferring out and getting promoted and moving on with their careers. How are they different? I am certain completing your degree will help, but what else? How and with whom do they socialize at work? How do they work with others in the office? And you? Compare and contrast. Be honest. It can be hard to perceive ourselves as others do. Are you easy to work with? Do you come across as a problem-solver or a troublemaker? Or are you under everyone’s radar? Do your co-workers, supervisors, and even employees know who you are? Having no reputation at work is the same as having a bad reputation if you are trying to advance your career. Build and maintain a good rep ASAP if you don’t have one.

Employees are generally more productive if they have goals and a personal investment in their work. In business that investment is expected to be career advancement, I should think. And money, of course. It still helps to be direct. Speak to your supervisor or boss and let him or her know about your desire to advance your career. Be certain they know you are pursuing your degree and ask for their advice and guidance. A good boss should be a good mentor as well. If you don’t find the support or experience you need in your direct supervisor, look around for other leaders within your company or department. Strong relationships within the company can go a long way. There is a difference between ass-kissing and aggressively pursuing your career within the company. Don’t belittle yourself by groveling and nagging. No one likes a brown-nosing snitch or shadow.

Volunteer to take on an extra project or up your workload. Keep it within reason. You don’t want to destroy your personal life or burn out, but enthusiasm and willingness to pull a little more than your own weight will demonstrate your serious intentions within the company. You will need to make sure your hard work and personal successes on the job are noticed. Don’t be a braggart, but be certain these accomplishments are making their way across the right people’s desks. 

As far as the home business and internet site are concerned, I don’t have a guaranteed winning idea. If I did, I’d be doing it instead of going to the office every day and writing this advice column at home in the evenings. (I’d write the column in the mornings and spend the rest of my days commanding my empire and purchasing small islands and slowly assembling my own nation and nuclear program. Or I’d bake cookies.) You have to find something you believe in as a business. I don’t mean it has to be spiritually fulfilling, but rather a business you believe will succeed. You should also enjoy it on some level, whether it is spiritually satisfying work or task-based work you like such as managing an inventory and shipping and receiving or designing T-shirts. Don’t create a thankless dead-end job in your own home. It’s a good idea to look at internet businesses and find ones you admire or that inspire you. Role models are not just for kids.

You won’t wake up and have the answer or absolute success one day; you will have to create it. There is no one guaranteed master plan, but others have done this and you have the benefit of learning from their experience.

Much luck, happiness, and a grand fiscal destiny,

Your Uncle Mat 

Uncle Mat answers questions about
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