The Inclusive Economy
Setting a ‘Recognition Budget’
Posted on 06/14/2012 @ 03:30 PM
Media reports often make entrepreneurship seem like a glamorous endeavor.
The truth is, though, that many of those who pursue self-employment identify with Rodney Dangerfield’s famous quote: “I don’t get no respect.” That’s because entrepreneurship is a solitary pursuit that often involves chasing ungrateful clients and struggling to define – let alone achieve – business success.
Even accomplished entrepreneurs can feel as though they toil in obscurity
Consider the public relations professional who helps others gain fame and fortune but who remains relatively unknown. The success he’s earned brings him a surfeit of work and money, but he’ll likely resent the prominence his clients have earned. With no stake in their companies, he stands to gain only from the reflected glory that comes with having worked for them. He’ll soon find that time and distance weaken such glory to almost nothing.
So what should he do?
He should give some serious thought to what needs to happen in order for him to feel appreciated.
Perhaps this means getting mentioned in news articles, delivering a seminar on public relations to a group of leaders in the industry he serves, writing a bestselling book, or achieving external validation in some other way.
Once he’s given this issue some thought, he should write a list of goals (each with deadlines) for gaining acclaim in his field. I call this list a “recognition budget.”
Let’s pause for a moment to note that the idea of seeking out praise and recognition makes some people leery.
Many people will claim they don’t care about acclaim; they say they are in the business to please customers and build a strong organization. That all sounds nice on the surface, but it falls apart upon some deeper digging.
Think about it this way: many people also say they don’t care about money. What they really mean is that they want to avoid becoming ruthless private equity barons who slash jobs in favor of short-term profits. They are really saying they are unwilling to compromise their values in the interest of enriching themselves. Fair enough, but they still need money to live.
Recognition works the same way. We mock reality TV stars who devote their lives to grabbing attention, but we, too, require some degree of recognition to stay motivated and regard ourselves as successful. (But if your goal is to have a reality TV show, sit tight. Recent trends suggest everyone in New Jersey will eventually get one.)
You already (I hope) make a budget for your business each year and project the amount of customers you intend to serve. Your next step should be making a list of ways in which you would like to be recognized.
Consider options that allow you to share your expertise with a mass audience or a few influential people. Speak at conferences, write opinion editorials, start a blog, write a book. Do something.
After all, making yourself known is your best chance to get the respect you so richly deserve.