I used to think earning over $100,000 a year was a lot of money. Over time I have numerous people on my team who earn more than that, some with no college education. If you want a six figure income, here are 6 steps to set you down the path.
#1 – Pick the right industry
Some industries are just more profitable than others. You want to be in those industries. It isn’t that it is impossible to make six figures as a teacher, it’s that it is nearly impossible to do that in a public school system, but it is more easily done as a corporate trainer in a large pharmaceutical company. So, pick your passion and try to deliver it to a profitable employer.
Personally, I’ve worked in both the pharmaceutical and financial services industries, both of which are quite profitable. Check out this link for the most profitable industries. It is also worth saying that you should pick a company that is doing well. Being at a pharmaceutical company that is going out of business isn’t going to get you any more compensation.
#2 – Get close to customers
Customers are the primary source of revenue for nearly every business, and that means they have a disproportionate influence over the company you work for. Building a close relationship with customers means that they will value you, your boss (and his/her boss) will value you, and your odds of promotion increase.
If it isn’t immediately obvious how to do this, say to your boss, “I would really like to understand our business better and I think the best way to do this would be to better understand our customers. How do you think I could do that?” You may be able to go on customer visits, listen to customer calls, etc to make steps in that direction.
#3 – Do your job and then some
Doing your job really well is the first step to promotion, the next step is to start doing more than your job. Ask your boss, “what can I take off your plate to make your job easier?” I guarantee this will get a positive response. If you don’t get any new assignments, think about reports you can create or information you can provide and take action. Look for work to be done and do it before it is assigned.
#4 – Build a network by saying, “yes”
In one corporate role I had, I received 5 promotions in 6 years. One key secret was that I continually volunteered to help people outside of my business unit with their projects. By saying, “yes” when other people ask you for help (or ask if “anyone” can help) you get the opportunity to essentially “interview” for new positions.
In other words, if you do good work for someone, they will think of you later when new positions open up. It may require more hours, but it pays dividends later.
#5 – Think broadly
Far too often people are put in a role, (e.g. payroll processor in the accounting department) and think their responsibility is to only think about things from the accounting department’s perspective. Not so.
People with top salaries are able to think beyond their role or department and think about the needs of the broader business. Take some time and learn about the competitors in your industry, read the industry news online, and meet with people outside your department to learn what is going on more broadly.
#6 – Read what the executives read
You will find that in nearly every firm the executives are reading certain business books. Frequently, they are reading the same books. If you take the time to read these books, you will not only understand what is going on in your company in a more in depth way, but you have an easy topic for elevator conversation should the opportunity arise. Of course, the issue we all face is that we don’t have time to read books. My remedy to that is to download books to my iPhone using Audible and listen to them during my commute to work. Zero time lost, lots of knowledge gained.
I wish I could tell you that following these 6 steps would get your compensation to $100k in 90 days, but that isn’t the truth and you should run from anyone that suggests something along those lines.
You are probably also asking why step #7, “Ask for more money” isn’t listed. The truth is that there is a time to ask for more money but it is only after you’ve demonstrated the six steps above consistently over time.