I spend a lot of time reading finance literature, listening to podcasts, and watching YouTube videos and every now and then I come across a little nugget of gold. A piece of information, or a perspective, that stops and makes me think – wow, that makes a whole lot of sense! Good old Dave gave me one of those moments recently.
There is a good chance that you have heard of Dave Ramsey. He is an American based personal finance expert that has built himself an empire around his baby steps. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, I do like his straight talking, no BS, approach that tells people what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear.
I was recently listening to one of his podcasts and he said something that really resonated with me. He said – “everyone is self-employed”. Now on the surface this seems silly because we are taught that there are employees and employers but dig a little deeper and this is a great message.
The biggest wealth building tool that you have is your income. It is your income that allows you to invest, pay down debt and boost your net asset position. As an employee it is generally accepted that you have little control over your level of income as this is set by your employer but, this is simply not true.
Your income is a representation of the skill’s you possess, your tenacity and your willingness to work hard. Sometimes there is also an element of luck involved, but we can’t rely on luck so let’s take that out of the equation.
Even though, as an employee, there is a third party paying you, all of the factors that make up a good income are in your control. It is incumbent upon you to build the skills, education, training and work ethic that are required to demand a higher income.
So instead of seeing yourself as an employee, see yourself as a contractor – you are the sole asset of your own business and your employer is the client. To generate revenue in your business, you rent out your time and expertise in return for a fair salary.
As your skills and experience progress, your time becomes more valuable. The more you know and the more capable you are, the more you are worth to an employer. This allows you to demand a higher wage. If your current employer is not willing to pay you what you are worth, move on and find someone that will.
Now there is a difference between thinking you are worth more and knowing you are worth more. If you go into work every day, apply the minimum amount of effort to receive your paycheck, then it is unreasonable to expect that you are worth any more than your current salary. You have to be proactive.
Instead of doing the minimum, do extra. Build your skills further, put in that extra effort, make yourself more valuable. If you do these things, then you can generally say with certainty that yes, you are worth more. You have built the foundation necessary to open this conversation with your current employer or move on to someone else who realises that value.
Some of the value adding activities that you may wish to do include:
- Complete higher formal education;
- Educate yourself further with free resources like podcasts, blogs, YouTube videos, etc.;
- Proactively seek more responsibilities at your current work place;
- Show up early, leave late;
- Assist others around you to help them become better and more proficient at their work; and
- Show care and pride in every task you do, no matter how mundane it may be.
Al of these activities build you as a person and, as a result, your contracting business can demand a higher rate. This is an investment in yourself and often an investment in yourself will pay the best dividends.
Now sometimes it can get a little disheartening when you go above and beyond and it is not recognised. No thanks, no higher pay, nothing. But remember why you are doing this – this is building YOUR skill set. Although your current employer might not realise it in the short-term, you are building yourself as an asset and that will make you more valuable in the future.
When you are more valuable, you have the right to force that conversation with your current employer or move on to someone new who realises your value. I hope this inspires you to do more, be a little better and really push to invest in yourself to build your skills, experience and work ethic. I truly believe this will pay big dividends in the future if you put in the hard work and leverage those skills appropriately.