3 Inevitable Career “Struggles” and How to Learn from Them
Everybody’s career will have ebbs and flows, challenges, and opportunities. No matter how great someone’s journey may look on paper, everyone goes through career and business struggles. Even those who may appear to transition seamlessly from one great job to the next run into struggles throughout the course of their career – how you bounce back and move forward is what defines true success.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Luvleen Sidhu, who at the young age of 28 co-founded BankMobile, America’s largest and fastest-growing mobile-first bank. Even though she came from a banking family, Luvleen didn’t envision a career in banking. After opening a bank account in college, she realized how uninspiring and complicated the process was. Importantly, she didn’t feel like she had a “partner” in her bank to help navigate finances and build a strong financial foundation.
In business school she was trained to think like an entrepreneur and look for opportunities where customer pain points weren’t being addressed and to build a business around it. This coupled with her previous personal banking experiences felt like areas she could improve upon, which lead her to her business idea of mobile banking.
Luvleen shared some of her career struggles and how she’s learned to combat them.
THE STRUGGLE: How to make a change or pivot your plan mid-stream.
She recognized the method of banking in the United States is a pain point for most people; so, Luvleen took the opportunity to create something new with a fresh perspective and created a digital bank. After the digital bank launched, the team realized that their original direct-to-consumer strategy did not enable the growth needed. They needed to sign up more customers and at lower acquisition costs.
While they didn’t want to stray from the mission of providing an effortless and affordable banking platform, they recognized they had to pivot their strategy. They devise a business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) strategy by acquiring a platform that enabled us to partner with colleges and universities around the country. Their willingness to be flexible and pivot, enabled them to open ~300K accounts a year (they currently have 2 million students banking with them).
THE LESSON: Flexibility and thinking creatively are keys to success.
THE STRUGGLE: How to handle competition and find your niche.
All businesses will have competition in some form or another. Recognizing your competition and embracing what they have created in the market offers inspiration to continue to innovate and stay one step ahead.
Although BankMobile’s mission and values differ from the “big banks” they are still their biggest competitors (big banks hold 50% of overall customer deposits). Instead of being intimidated by these institutions and their considerable customer base, they leveraged pain points their customers experience and created a better product. Since BankMobile’s launch in 2015, a number of other digital banking startups have entered the marketplace. Instead of looking at competition as a negative, they now take it as inspiration and motivation to see what customers value in the digital banking model.
THE LESSON: Embrace competition and use it as motivation for future change.
It may sound silly but give your job search effort a name. You can name it after yourself, your dog, or your most desired company to work for. Call it, ‘My Job Winning Project,’ ‘Job Search Mission,’ ‘Mission Microsoft,’ or ‘Project Fred.’ Name the initiative or job search effort and celebrate your effort when you win the job you’ve been wanting.
THE STRUGGLE: How to let go of 10% Thinking.
10% Thinking is the theory that whatever you’re working towards, you should improve the process in 10% increments. While this can be an efficient practice, 10% improvements is just not enough to be an extraordinary company. On the other hand, “Moonshot Thinking,” comes from the idea of landing a man on the moon when this was only a dream – a “moonshot.”
Letting go of 10% Thinking and instead focusing on 10x Thinking is where you will start to see a tangible change. If they had only worked to improve BankMobile in increments of 10%, they wouldn’t have achieved what they have in less than five years – being one of America’s largest and fastest-growing digital banks.
THE LESSON: While it may sound cliché, thinking big is the best way to significantly improve and get real results.
It is important to identify that the journey to career success is exactly that – a journey. It takes discipline, practice, and some serious self-reflection. No matter what your career path or business is, everyone will likely face roadblocks or feel defeated. The secret to success is to push through the struggles and then learn from and apply the lessons.