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What Business Are We All REALLY In?

March 11, 2015 1:05 AM | Cassie Olson

By: Jack Mulcahy

If your answer to the above is, “Résumé Writer,” or “Career Counselor,” or some variation of the two, you’re WRONG!


Oh sure, you have spent a great deal of time (and possibly money) developing and marketing your own “brand.” And, yes, you know that the résumés you write or the career counseling you offer are the best money can buy. But is that it? Do your brand and your business niche really identify what you can call your business?


If you are thinking that way, here is some news for you: none of your businesses can be defined in such a narrow way. No matter who you are, no matter how you define yourselves, your real business is meeting the client’s needs, in whatever form they manifest themselves. If you do not realize that, you are not only kidding yourselves, you are taking the first steps on the road to oblivion.


You need to look no further than the last half of the twentieth century for examples of this truth. Through the 1950s or so, the railroads were a major source of shipping. Food, passengers, raw materials, farm machinery, automobiles; you name it, if it needed to be moved from one place to another, the railroads were the way to go, and they were a major economic force.


By the early 1970s, however, the U.S. railroad industry was in shambles. Has anyone today ever heard of the New York Central Railroad? How about the Ann Arbor Railroad? The Erie Lackawanna? The Colorado and Southern Railway? At one time, there were more than 140 Class I railroads in the U.S. (A Class I railroad is one listed as earning at least $1 million in annual revenue.)


Today there are just four Class I railroads in operation in the U.S. What happened?


While a part of the decline can be traced to natural disasters such as hurricanes, the major reason was that the railroads remained in a mindset that they were in the railway industry, and did not realize that their real industry was transportation. So, instead of seeing the newly emerging automotive and aircraft industries as potential partners in transportation, the railroads viewed those newcomers as competition and tried to fight them off. It took them too long to realize the mistake, until a government bailout (in the form of consolidation) was their only means of remaining viable.


You cannot afford to make the mistake the railroads made. You must each learn to broaden your business definition. You are in the business of finding solutions to clients’ needs. Sometimes that definition will mean finding out that your individual solution is not right for the client, and that is fine. None of you can be all things to all clients, no matter how hard you may try. The occasion may come when you need to refer a client elsewhere, either because that client’s requirements do not fit your expertise or because another professional may be better suited to the client. 


Jack Mulcahy has been a writer all his life and has written hundreds of resumes for people from all professions. Each resume he writes shows the unique selling proposition so necessary to market the job seeker. Jack has also contributed free-lance articles to newspapers and magazines, and has sold fiction to many publications. He and his wife Pat live in suburban Philadelphia, by the grace of their two cats, the real homeowners.


The National Résumé Writers' Association
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