Whether we recognize it or not, we are all entrepreneurs marketing ourselves to the marketplace. One of the most basic fundamentals of our economic system indicates that the amount we earn is based on the value we offer. Therefore, the more value we bring to the market, the more we can charge for our services.
What is the difference between those at the top of the pay scale in a given profession and those at the bottom? In most cases, the people at the top of the pay scale receive a higher salary not only because of their skill or ability, but also because of all the little things they do to bring value to the organization.
Increasing Your Value
If you want to earn more money, FIRST you must increase your value. Only after increasing your value can you expect to charge more for your services. It doesn’t work like many people think: “Pay me more and I will do more.” That is the mindset of a low-wage employee who will never get ahead. The mindset of an entrepreneurial-minded employee would sound something like this: “Let me do all I can to increase my value and if I can’t earn what I am worth with my current employer, then I will market my services to another employer.”
I would like to relate a story about my son Gerrid and his first job as a bagger at a local grocery store. This is the same store where my son Jake used to work. His employer’s instructions were simple enough: ask the customer if they want paper or plastic. As you pack, put like items together and don’t make the bags too heavy. One day, Gerrid came home discouraged. He said, “Dad, this job is not at all challenging. It’s actually a rather meaningless job.”
I shared with him my philosophy about the little things that matter and how he could improve his value and his image. I reminded him that he wouldn’t earn any additional money, as the salary of a bagger was limited, but that it was important for him to perform the role of a bagger in the best possible way—with excellence. I encouraged him to look at this job as an opportunity to grow, to become a better person, and prepare him for the future.
I challenged him to think of ways to go beyond his employer’s normal expectations. I suggested little things like keeping his shoes shined, pressing his clothes, smiling at the customers, offering them a friendly greeting, making eye contact, thanking them for their business, and volunteering to do the things the other employees did not want to do.
My goal was to teach Gerrid a new way of thinking—to focus on the little things he could do to increase his value to the marketplace. It wasn’t long before he began to enjoy his work, winning the appreciation and admiration of his employer and co-workers. Today, he owns his own very successful search engine optimization firm (SmithSEO) and is one of the most significant contributors to my Little Things Matter mastermind team.
The Compounding Effect
Just as my son Gerrid experienced in his life, focusing on the little things to enhance your value will add up. Going the extra mile brings great rewards because so few people make this kind of effort. As you make small changes, you will see some increase in your value. At first, it may not be measurable. But your ultimate success will come as a result of a compounding effect of doing the little things over a long period of time. It comes from making small improvements day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year. Compare your success to investing your money. Just as interest compounds over time, so will your value if you will stretch yourself to build your value each day.
As you look to increase your value, you will want to focus on two things. First, be intentional about performing your core job description at the highest level of excellence you are capable of achieving. Learn by identifying the little things the successful people do in your field of expertise that make them stand out. Second, be conscious of doing the little things that will brand you as the kind of person others look up to with admiration and respect.
The most significant increase in your value will be achieved if you know the little things that matter and do them consistently at the highest level of excellence you are capable of achieving.