Society offer us opportunities throughout our lives, often, in the form of new challenges, and daunting as they may be, we must meet them head on if we are to thrive. This paradigm of the professional world is no different, from the time we get our first job to the point where we might consider going into business ourselves.
These moments are definitive. That is why many jobs place an emphasis on training when hiring new staff, some even going as far as offering a probation period, in which your skills and knowledge are tested, before becoming an official part of the team. It is understood in these instances that the success and fulfilment of new staff is connected with the success of the business. However, those who run their own business will know things can be different when the only person with a stake in your success is, well, yourself.
You may feel accomplished in your field, but less capable in an area such as branding, or presenting, for instance. However, rising to the occasion when undertaking tasks that are out of your comfort zone is a vital trait to possess in business. If you lack the funds to outsource these tasks, you cannot allow a lack of assistance to result in a fatal lack of confidence. Every business owner has experienced a similar personal crisis, moments where you cannot shake the little voice crying out from the back of your mind “I wasn’t trained for this.” But what training really does is introduce you to new scenarios slowly, and help you deal with them by developing your skill-set accordingly. So what if you already had the skills you needed to succeed, but just didn’t know it? We mustn’t take our past lessons as static, but instead, view them as transferable. We call these lessons transferable skills, funnily enough.
This way of thinking won’t be new to anyone who has completed a CV or job application, as during this process you’re encouraged to think of how past work experience or recreational activities have prepared you for the position. When we go into work for ourselves, we are effectively offering ourselves a job, so it would make sense to adopt the same mind-set. These same considerations can be taken when faced with any situation you do not feel prepared for. Take, once again, the example of presenting: any prior experience in public speaking or performance could be utilised when confronting this obstacle, and not only that but any wider, compatible knowledge could be implemented according to the relevance it has to your topic.
That was a very specific example but transferable skills can be generally viewed as fitting into several broader categories, at least certainly from a business standpoint. These categories would be:
Teamwork, Leadership, Personal Motivation, Organisation and Time Management, Listening, Written Communication, Verbal Communication, Research and Analytical Skills, Numeracy skills, Personal Development and Information Technology.
By considering these skills when applying for a job with no prior experience in that field, you immediately increase your chances of being a prospect, and the same goes for running your own business.
I can personally vouch for this approach to work: interning with PA Business Support, I initially found myself in quite an unfamiliar professional situation. At first I was approaching the position as completely new territory; it was daunting to step into the corporate world. But, as time has gone by I have begun to see the value in transferable skills and portable knowledge. When writing on economic or business topics, the research and analytical skills I developed in academia have helped to prepare me for that type of work, as have my IT skills as part of the information age.
My written communication skills are also in play as an undergraduate student of English literature who has been given an opportunity to gain exposure for their writing. Finally, time management and adhering to deadlines is something I’m no stranger too, having been a student for nearly two years now. This process has given me a chance to be part of a team, where communication is key, and where writing on message and listening to what that message should convey is important. I’m even transferring some of the skills I learned as a stand up comedian into my work (though not so much in this blog… awkward).
So, take it from me: where you see challenges, instead see opportunity. And where you predict failure, remember past success. You never know what you might discover about yourself.