Business 101 – How to be employable

It’s easier than ever to find work, and for companies to find people. There are a number of sites that will let you work from home, like, no matter where you live. There are dozens of job boards online.

That’s not the problem. The problem is, once you start looking asking for interviews, you need to be employable.

And, if you’re starting a business, you need to be someone people want to hire.

So. Let’s look at this, this way.

You will NOT be hired, or given more work, if you:

  • Can’t write English.
  • Are discourteous, dismissive, or rude.
  • Don’t understand what really needs to be done or how to work with others.
  • Are not effective with today’s technical tools.


Let’s cover these one at a time.

English: The accepted language of business.

If you live in a country where English is not the native language, I’m sure some part of your brain is saying, “Why on earth do I need to get good at English?” And the answer is: To expand your opportunities.

Don’t get mad at me; I didn’t decide that English would become the accepted language of business. It just happened, probably because the U.S. is one of the largest economies in the world. Here’s a map that shows the size of the economies of other countries, if they were states in the U.S. (The economy of my state, Rhode Island, is equivalent to Ethiopia. Good thing I spent decades in California, and in Silicon Valley specifically.)

China has been the world’s largest economy for a couple of years now, with $21.3 trillion in economic output; the European Union (containing 27 separate countries, with their various languages) is second ($19.2 trillion), and the United States is third ($18.6 trillion).

It’s obvious why the European Union’s language didn’t become the language of business; there is no dominant language. China’s success as an economic powerhouse is relatively new, historically speaking, and the Chinese have also been pretty good at learning English. Should you be considering learning Chinese? Wouldn’t hurt. But it’s a very different type of language; you can see why someone, in say, Germany, would find it easier to learn English than Chinese.

But I’m not a language historian. I just know that for now, if you get really good at English, it’s going to increase your ability to make money.

English is not something you learn once and then ignore. In fact, that’s a big mistake. If you allow yourself to make silly mistakes, such as using “it’s” when you should be typing “its” (that’s the actual possessive of “it,” in spite of how often it tends to be misused) and putting commas and periods outside quote marks (saying, “these”. instead of “these.”) – every mistake reflects badly on you, and will definitely reduce your chances for increased income.

Why is this so important to employers and people who might be your customers, if you open a business?

Because those small errors are mistakes – mistakes that show you’re not paying attention, you’re not getting better, and that you don’t care. It’s like walking around with food spilled on the front of your shirt. People will avoid you, and when people avoid you, your chances are reduced.

What to do? Use Grammerly. It will show you if what you’re writing is right, or not. Hopefully you will use it mindfully – learning not to repeat your mistakes. Mistakes are costly.

Attitude: Discourteous versus helpful.

In my business life, I have one absolute rule: I don’t work with jerks. That means my clients are nice, helpful people, and everyone who works for me is a nice, helpful person.

If you are not polite; if you are dismissive (you don’t really care – trust me, they can tell); or rude, you will never, ever, realize your full potential.

No one wants to spend time around jerks.

Being a jerk is a decision. If you decide you’re going to “get the best of other people,” nice people will avoid you and, ironically, you will spend your life surrounded by other jerks. It’s not a great way to live.

The teenager who goes into a job interview nicely dressed and sits up straight and answers questions courteously and honestly is about 80% of the way to getting a job, even to the point where the employer will go out of his or her way to hire that person.

The teenager who goes into a job interview with his pants hanging off his butt, slumps in the chair, and answers questions rudely, is about 95% sure of NOT getting the job.

You can rebel against this reality, but it won’t do you any good.

You’ll just end up more angry and definitely unemployed.

Understanding what needs to be done and how to work with others.

By now, you’re starting to realize something, I hope.

Business is not about being greedy and ordering people around, like business owners do in the movies. Business is about doing things for other people, and them being happy with what you’ve done, and happy to pay you for it.

In order to be helpful, you need to understand what people need help with, the tools that can help you help them, how they want to be helped, and then go about doing it, in a way that makes it easier for all the other people to do their parts.

This may sound really lame if you are 21 or younger, but you can practice this at home, or in your neighborhood. Is there an old lady who needs help with her yard? Does your mother need help with something in the house? Figure out what is needed, then go to the person and offer to help, and then do a good job of it, checking in with that other person as you go.

THIS is the true definition of business! This is how business really works.

If you want to start being more successful financially, this is where you start. You figure out where there is a need, no matter how small; offer to help, agree on a price; do a good job; get paid.

Becoming effective with today’s technical tools.

The whole world’s economy now runs on the Internet. Sure, there are physical things still made, including things we eat and drink. But every single one of those businesses use technology to run their accounting, communicate, and even make those things they produce.

It’s all more digital than ever, because of the “cloud.” The cloud is really just an extension of the Internet. The Internet is like the structure of the house; the cloud is what happens inside the house. Now most work is done in applications that “reside” in the cloud. That means that they exist on very powerful computer called a “server,” which is connected to the Internet.

When you do banking on the internet, you’re accessing an application that someone built and put on a server that the bank owns (or has access to).

And of course everyone is familiar with “apps,” which are really also just applications on a server somewhere, it’s just that when we refer to “apps” accessible via a mobile device, we tend to call them apps; the word “applications” is more often applied to programs you access via your computer, whether they are literally downloaded onto your computer (more and more rare) or located out in the cloud (becoming the norm).

Advice? Spend as much time on the Internet as you can, working on various types of applications. There are a million out there that are free.

At the very least, get good at working with Google Docs, Google Sheets, and other Google applications. A lot of companies use Google applications almost exclusively to run their companies.


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