So often in my work with new business analysts, we have a conflict of perspective. I see someone as successful (say because they had discovered that in their list of transferable skills, they were well-qualified for a variety of business analyst positions) and that person would not see themselves as successful (say because they didn’t have a formal “BA” job yet, or they did but it was a short-term contract, etc).
So this begs the question, what does success look like?
I believe that each of you owns your future and your career direction. I can’t tell you that you should be making $82,493 per year (which is the average salary of a business analyst, according to the most recent, but dated business analyst salary survey), or that you should be creating business cases or leading your team to create better software. I can’t tell you what your success looks like. That has to come from you.
But I can tell you what kinds of success others have found. Let’s take Rob Jowaisis as an example. Rob has shared the start of his BA career journey with us – just last week. You might read Rob’s story and say, “Well, he’s not done yet.” I say, “Of course he’s not done! Are you done?” I’m not done.
We’re done with our careers when we retire, and maybe not even then. Rob’s story is a success story. Rob is being financially rewarded for a job he likes and a job that is giving him opportunities to expand his business analysis experience. Rob is very close to closing the deal on a life-long dream of getting a college degree. Rob is a man with a mission. He is paying the price now for a greater tomorrow. He is a success. If Rob waits until he achieves every part of his dream to celebrate, he’ll lose out on enjoying the amazing journey he’s on.
Let’s take another example. One of our recent course participants, we’ll call her Jo, jumped on an opportunity to analyze a process for a local small business. Jo tackled one of their most complex and error-ridden processes. In the matter of a few hours of discovery and several more of analysis, she was able to put together that process in an easy-to-understand document.
They were so impressed, they asked her to come back and help implement the obvious improvements that were needed. What’s more, the business owner is well-connected locally and willing to make introductions to organizations that can employ Jo full-time.
Is she employed yet as a BA? Not the last time I checked (but she had just secured a second BA job interview from talking about this pro bono work experience).
Is she a success? Absolutely, and without question, yes.
The question is, what does success look like to you?
In essence, success doesn’t have to be about achieving a big milestone. That’s not to say that milestones such as new jobs and promotions aren’t important. They are.
- But that meeting where you leveraged a new communication technique and earned a new stakeholder’s trust and created a happier conversation for both of you? That’s a success.
- That pilot project you did using a new business analysis technique? That’s a success.
- That contract job that in the best of worlds leads to a full-time opportunity, and in the worst of scenarios expands your business analysis experience? Success.
I can tell you what it looks like to me and when I see it in others, but only you will know what it looks like to you. My challenge to you is not to blow success up into something so big you never achieve it. Make it small. Celebrate now. And you’ll get to those big successes much, much sooner.
The only failure is absence of forward progress. Failure is not experimenting with the new technique because you might not get it right. Failure is not sending your resume because you might hear “No.” You are too special for that. Your life is too short to be doing less than fulfilling work. Your life is too short to wait until later to be fairly compensated.
We are a community of business analysts. We make change. We improve organizations. The world needs us to do what we do. The world needs your successes – the big and the small.
Anything you do to take one sliver of a step in a positive direction is success. Celebrate it.
To find your path to success, check out the How to Start a Business Analyst Career Roadmap – this is a no-strings-attached resource I’ve created for the business analysis community to help you track where you are along your career journey, and determine what you can do to move forward. I believe that we each can find a fulfilling career path that is financially rewarding, and I believe the Roadmap is going to help you take at least one forward step towards your BA career goals.