Think of yourself as a product for a few moments. Your employer (or client) continuously refills on what you have to offer.
Now think of how you treat products. The ones you like and seek out vs. the ones you just kind of use because they’re there or because switching costs are high. There are also products you use that you really don’t like, but feel there is no good alternative (I’m looking at you, AT&T which has essentially a monopoly where I live).
Which are you? Are you a product with a devoted following or are you just there because you’re there?
One of the difficult aspects of the modern economy is that there are new, competing products being released all the time. Just like music moved from tape to digital, there are now alternatives to what you’ve been doing for years. Not many people (if any) said, “Think of the tape manufacturers – it’s not fair, we need to keep using cassettes!” Instead, we saw that CDs (and then MP3s and then streaming) were better alternatives and so we switched.
Jobs are “disappearing” because there are so many better alternatives to hiring for those jobs. From outsourcing to machine learning to robotics and drones and autonomous vehicles – you aren’t competing against just other people anymore.
A new model year for you is just around the corner. Is the 2017 edition of you going to sell out or sit on the shelf? You need to become your own product manager, which means understanding your true competition, your actual costs (if you are unfamiliar with “fully burdened labor costs” then Google it – or just add 20% to your pay to estimate it), your actual value, etc.
So, as the year winds down give some serious thought to your entire offering – from packaging to warranty.
Here’s to wishing you a year of Apple-level devotion and margins!