Whether you're young in your career - fresh out of college and working your first real job - or you're in your prime earning years and making a pretty healthy salary, you should always be looking ahead to think about how you can increase your earning power. And while no two career paths are the same, there are some proven strategies and principles you can leverage to enhance your future prospects.
Earning power is your ability to make money. It's the chance you have to generate money based on your job prospects, connections, salary, and other immediate opportunities. Your earning power isn't necessarily the amount of money you're making right now - it's what you could make in the near future.
Someone who is working as a cook in a fast food restaurant doesn't have much earning power where they are. If, however, that same person goes to culinary school at night after getting off his shift, he's in the process of increasing his earning power. (He's now putting himself in a position to work at a nicer restaurant with better pay.)
Someone who is working in a marketing position at a small company in a niche industry is limited by the opportunities that exist in that organization/industry. By going out on her own and becoming a freelance copywriter, she increases her earning power by opening the door to more/better opportunities. (She might take a pay cut in the short-term, but her long-term earning power increases.)
There are a multitude of ways to boost your earning power, but here are a few of our favorite suggestions:
1. Think 10 Years Ahead
The problem most people have in their careers is that they're only focused on the here and now. And while there's something to be said for being fully present where you are, it's impossible to maximize earning potential if you aren't looking ahead.
It's not enough to look six months or a year down the road. You need to cast a 10-year vision for your life and career. This puts you in the mind frame of making investments in yourself, not just actions that produce quick wins.
As you've heard, it's not what you know, but who you know that gives your career wings. It's important that you spend time networking and building connections. This will require some sacrifice on your part, but the ultimate payoff is worth it.
You never know when a connection you make today could lead to a business partnership, employment opportunity, or source of funds for a future project. Give to others without expecting anything in return and you'll eventually have a pool of trustworthy people to tap when the timing is right.
3. Find a Mentor
As part of your networking, it would behoove you to find a mentor. You don't have to force it or even use the word "mentor," but it's something to consider. And the logical place to start is with someone who is working in your organization and/or industry.
"You will receive constructive feedback from someone other than peers or your direct boss," Take Charge America mentions.
"You'll also be able to ask questions and get ideas for how you can increase your visibility as a candidate for promotions. Look for someone who is senior to you, has a solid reputation you respect and doesn't engage in office gossip."
Mentors come in all shapes and sizes, but they're typically older, more experienced, and have the heart of a teacher (while still being willing to correct you).
4. Pursue a Self-Directed Career
There's plenty of earning potential working as an employee in a large and successful organization, but you can dramatically enhance your prospects by pursuing a self-directed career. One example that comes to mind is the career path of being a real estate agent.
"Becoming a real estate agent gives you freedom, higher earning power, and control over your own career," explains Real Estate U, one of the leaders in online real estate education. "Real estate agents work for themselves and build their own businesses. They make their own schedules based on the work that needs to be done, not someone else's idea of when the office should be busy."
Other good options include freelancing within your area of expertise, starting your own business, certain photography niches, graphic design work, copywriting, etc.
5. Start a Side Hustle
A natural way to bolster your earning power without quitting your day job is to start a side hustle. By working a little harder and longer today, you can create future opportunities that may eventually allow you to pivot into a more favorable career path or professional pursuit.
There's something to be said for always looking ahead and never settling for where you are now. That doesn't mean you have to be discontent or frustrated with where you are today – it just means growth should be part of your DNA.
Hopefully this article gives you some practical ideas to implement right away in an effort to boost your earning power month after month and year after year.