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Did You Buy a Job or Build a Career?

Tom CoffinsmartPRENEUR Blog Series

What’s the difference between a career and a job you might ask.


The brilliant minds at Merriam-Webster provide this definition of Career.

  • A profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling. 
  • A field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life.



Now let’s see how the dictionary defines a job.

  • A regular remunerative position
  • A specific duty, role, or function
  • Something that has to be done
  • An undertaking requiring unusual exertion

Reading their definition of job definitely leads me to think, a career sounds like a much better path.


The first definition for career mentions the word training. The Systems Integration career is all about training. The more you know the more you can make. CEDIA provides ongoing online training as well as their traveling roadshow and of course the annual CEDIA Expo.

Are you taking advantage of that training?

Manufacturers such as Control4, Crestron, SnapOne, Nice/Nortek/Elan, RTI, and URC provide great product knowledge training. Are you taking advantage of that training?

Recently our friends Matt Bernath, Jeremy Burkhardt and their partners purchased Vital Management, now Vital, LLC. They offer a great learning experience. IntegrateU has programs to assist your employees in learning skills that could help support their career decision vs. just showing up for a job each day. Have you checked these out?

Buying groups have long held conferences and brought in speakers to enlighten their audience. Many years ago CEDIA, not a buying group, brought in Michael Gerber to speak. This actually laid the foundation for Simply Reliable and smartOFFICE. Check out his book E-Myth. Have you ever followed up with a speaker to engage in more learning?

Have you ever checked out Vistage, CinergyPDG, EOS, Lean Six Sigma? Two of our smartPRENEUR Guest Faculty members, Jason Sayen and Chris Smith provide their services to help small businesses tighten their processes, check them out.


In the story of the Turtle and the Hare, we are taught that slow and steady win the race. But, here’s a fun fact, turtles only move forward. They never back up. That’s exactly the same dedication one must make to their career. Always be in motion. Grow your skill set. Grow your mind. Grow your employees.

I challenge you to look at your business and decide where the weakest link is. Is it accounting? Is it scheduling? Is it your presentation skills? Spend some quiet time understanding where the pain is. Here’s a hint, it’s probably a function you feel inadequate about your knowledge level or just flat out hate doing it. Now tackle it. Invest a predetermined amount of time to understand it, research it, learn more about it, then fix it. Consecutive progressive achievement.


One big difference in the life of a smartPRENEUR is planning for the next step in your life. If you are working your company like a job, see definitions above, your choices down the road get very slim. If you are treating your career and your company like the assets they could be then you can set yourself up for the next stage of life. You might want to hand down your company to one of your children or a long time employee. You may want to sell the company. Well then you have to make sure you’ve helped your employees build a career so that you are not the company’s only asset.


A job is hard. Don’t get me wrong, the career path can and will have its ups and downs, but if you are building a career you are working towards a goal. That can be very rewarding.

All over the world you can hear those who have a job and are not happy yell out every Friday, Thank God it’s Friday. If you are working your career, how about stealing a line from WeWork’s founder Adam Neumann and starting a trend, Thank God it’s Monday!

About the Author

Tom Coffin

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Tom Coffin is CEO/President/Co-Founder of Simply Reliable. He has owned and operated companies in retail, security, Audio/Video, Systems Integration, and Home Automation product manufacturing sector.