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7 Tips to Treat Your Job Like It’s Your Own Startup (Yes, Really)

There’s no denying that your mind becomes loaded with different career advice throughout the years you spend working—and Lauren Bradley, OfficeNinjas All-Star Winner, admits she’s no exception in receiving an endless barrage of guidance.

Yet, no matter how many different sentiments, proverbs, and helpful tidbits she’s heard time and time again, there’s one piece of advice that has always stuck with her. It came when she was the newbie on a well-trained sales team after her boss sat her down for a bit of job training. He simply said, “Run your business.”

Lauren’s boss elaborated by saying that she should treat her work like it was her own company—that she needed to take the training and apply it as if her success depended on it. She would need to think on her feet and make decisions she could stand behind—just as if she was her own CEO.

Though the requirements and duties associated with the job didn’t change, that one piece of advice shifted Lauren’s entire perspective. She explains,

I knew from day one that I didn’t have to worry about approval for every little decision I made—that he was trusting me to do my job. It was extremely motivating and enlightening.

In fact, that sage advice was so inspiring that Lauren now carries it with her when approaching every single day at work. Of course, we had some questions about taking that kind of control over her position, and her advice didn’t disappoint.

Check out the tips she had to offer and prepare to adopt a brand new outlook of your own.

1. Be Yourself

This first point might seem obvious. But as Lauren points out, it’s one that’s all too frequently forgotten. She explained,

As Office Ninjas, we often have many people to please—including our managers, our peers, and visiting guests. We are constantly receiving requests on the fly and we must think on our feet.

It’s natural to crave success in your role (as impossible as it might seem to keep everybody happy at times), but obsessing constantly about what your boss wants—before ever taking the time to consider what you think is the right thing to do—can be both exhausting and counterproductive.

Remember, you were chosen to fill this position for a very specific reason: You can do an amazing job with it. Don’t be afraid to listen to yourself and trust your own judgment. As Lauren says, “Making autonomous decisions—that you know you can stand behind—can lead to recognition, pride, and less stress.”

2. Be Conscious of Your Spend

You deal with a lot of the company’s money in your position. And while you always make an effort to be judicious and responsible, thinking of that money as your own cash can really alter the way you approach financial decisions.

This isn’t just helpful in regards to being frugal: looking at money with this perspective can also help you decide when it’s worth it to invest in something.

“For example, the other day I spoke with an Office Manager who spent a whole day disconnecting and unclogging a pump under the kitchen sink because she thought the plumbing fees were too expensive,” Lauren said. “Now, if this was her own business, would it be the best use of her time to waste an entire day under a sink?” You already know the answer to that. (Definitely not).

Yes, you want to be conscious of tipping the scales, but that doesn’t mean you need to become a martyr in order to save the business a few dollars. As Lauren warns, don’t let your concern for spending cloud your judgment.

3. Treat Your Staff as Clients

Respect is important in any office. Yet, we often don’t treat our coworkers and colleagues with the same level of respect that we reserve for clients and customers.

Adjusting your approach and making an effort to treat your staff as if they were clients of your own business is sure to lead to better communication and improved relationships. Yes, the concept might seem a little strange at first. But it’s sure to make a big difference.

4. Pool Your Resources and Delegate

We are ‘yes people’ by trade. Though sometimes we get annoyed by crazy requests, we all started this line of work because we want to help others.

And Lauren’s right, you dedicate yourself to helping other people free up their time and energy. Who does that for you?

Despite the fact that you make your living assisting others, it’s still important to delegate. If you look at your position as its own business, it becomes all too clear that you can’t do everything yourself. Surround yourself with a solid network and delegate when it’s appropriate—including empowering staff to do things on their own.

You were not hired to do it all. You were hired to help—and there are many ways to do that without taking it all on your shoulders.

5. Know When to Ask for Forgiveness—Not Permission

Knowing when to ask for forgiveness is likely a sentiment you’ve heard a few times already, one that definitely applies when you’re aiming to treat your job like it’s a standalone company.

It can be a scary thought, particularly if you feel like you’re in a subordinate role. But remember, you were hired for your skills, expertise, and know-how. So, don’t be afraid to trust yourself. There are very few mistakes that can’t be fixed.

6. Speak With Authority and Confidence

Think of a business owner you know, and you likely come up with someone who’s motivating, inspiring, and self-assured. They present themselves in a way that just exudes confidence and credibility.

This is a perspective you can tie into your own position. Hold your head high and speak with confidence. You’ll automatically elevate your credibility in the office and be able to approach your work with a higher level of self-assuredness.

No, this doesn’t mean you’ll have all of the answers all of the time. Confidence also means you’re willing to try new things, put yourself out there, and admit when you don’t have the solution. If you do it right, people will say about you what Lauren says about professionals she admires: “You want to be around them and you don’t want to disappoint them.”

7. Say Yes

This seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? As an Office Ninja, you simply can’t say yes to everyone. There are often extra steps involved, such as gaining approvals from upper management.

It becomes all too easy to be annoyed by all the requests that fall on your plate. However, Lauren offers an encouraging point. She explains,

If you think of it in terms of running your own business, you need the requests from your clients (staff) to be able to do business. You have a service to provide. If they stop coming to you because they aren’t satisfied with the outcome, then your business is failing.

Of course, you won’t be able to offer an enthusiastic ‘yes’ to everything. But entering into each conversation with this mindset will help you feel more valued, improve your collaboration, and ultimately help you reach a better solution.

The concept of treating your position as if it’s a standalone business can seem strange at first, but as Lauren proves, it can also boost your overall approach and outlook. Give these tips a try, and you’re bound to transform life inside your 9-to-5.

Which of these tips do you think would most help you treat your job like it’s your own business? Let us know in the comments!


  1. The flip side of that is owners taking advantage of their managers, some even working a better paying job while their hired manager takes care of the other business sideline for minimum pay. Taker beware. Are you a shareholder or someone’s stooge?

  2. All very good advice. I especially like the concept of treating your position as if it’s a standalone business. That helps me view things differently and I think will give me an edge I didn’t have before.

  3. love Love LOVE “Run your own business” & “be conscious of spend” These two seem to be real stumbling blocks for some admin professionals, but are truly the key to driving your career. In particular ownership of the business allows you to think bigger than just your next task or email–essential for getting into a systematic frame of mind to make thing run better and more smoothly. Be conscious of spend, when including people’s time as spend, is essential! I was just discussing this with one of my senior managers yesterday–we had a process which we streamlined, to allow other managers to have more time back to run their businesses, but we discovered we may have gone too far. It was a great discussion, we both learned something from it and took back better practices going forward. I left the conversation feeling even more empowered. A fabulous way to work.

    1. So glad you recognize the importance of those steps, Connie! I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes we can go to far with process and actually create the dreaded “red tape”. I’ve gotten so much better over the years with balancing what is common sense and what is necessary to make it fair and a streamlined process. I love that your team was able to focus on what was best for everyone’s time and not just “but these are the rules, just follow them and it will be better” which isn’t always true. I used to a real rule stickler now I get very frustrated with people that cannot see “the wood through the trees.”

    2. We love hearing first-hand stories like that, Connie. You’re definitely right that people’s time counts as “spend” and that “human budgeting” can really make or break things!

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