Are you an expense or revenue producer?

Think about your career for a second. Actually, think back to the beginning. What do you do every day? What do you produce? What is your output? Are you an expense, profit, or revenue producer?

When I learned about these three important distinctions from the Aji Network, it made me take a serious look at what I actually do (or “offer”) for my employer).

After 20 years working with some of the biggest global brands, I prided myself on a career of accomplishments and achievements. After all, contributed to building Natwest’s first online banking platform, the re-brand of BP from British Petroleum to a (supposedly) eco-friendly brand, “Beyond Petroleum”. I was instrumental in helping Top Gear reach it’s first 10 million fans and worked on a myriad of multi-million dollar advertising campaigns you definitely would have heard of.

I made other people rich!

But the reality was, I’ve always only ever been an “expense”.

My education, hard work, positive work ethic, and competence only got me so far in my career. I was proficient at taking direction, managing teams, delivering quality products and services, but at the end of the day: I wasn’t bringing in revenue. I wasn’t a “revenue producer”.

In that sense, it can make on expendable.

Let me clarify.

You’re an “expense” when you operate in any support function. You exist as an investment. Even the most accomplished, creative, technical and operational minds can be expensed. You may be a designer, a marketing analyst, HR professional, and so on.

You’re a “revenue producer” when you bring in revenue. Account managers, sales people, client directors, CEOs are producing revenue as they are responsible for building, driving and growing a business.

You can be a “profit producer” when you reduce expenses. Many roles can be both expense and profit producing, for example, when you manage a P&L and you identify cost savings for your budget or select an appropriate supplier based on value for money.

So there I was, realizing that for most of my career, I had been an expense for all the companies I worked for. No matter how accomplished, skilled and hard working, I wasn’t directly responsible for revenue production and although at the beginning of my career that was ok to start with, I’m finding it a major roadblock later in life as I seek to achieve my ambitions.

After all, this blog is designed to help people pivot away from an old way of thinking, and my goal is to share this awareness with you and help you think about your own situation, career trajectory, and life goals.

If you are set on taking care of yourself and your loved ones throughout your mid-to-late career, you need to understand that the transition from expense producer to revenue producer is critical. You need to be able to transform yourself into the type of career professional who can attract employment through your thinking ability and capacity to bring in money and become a revenue producer.

You may be an artist, technologist, creative, or analyst, love your craft and be thinking, “I love what I do, I have no interest in sales, business development or revenue production”. And if that’s the case, I certainly wish you well in your life journey, but you probably have a few million saved up in the bank for a rainy day and 25+ years retirement, or you’re going to have a sad wake-up call sometime in the future.

We live in a time where our governments, and society in general simply not taking care of us later on in life. The skills we used to employ every day that got us so far are becoming less valuable every day as we’re superseded by robots, AI, and other new disruptive platforms. The company security, pensions, and infrastructure that used to exist is now a distant memory and many people in their mid-career are waking up to a confusing and scary reality that they just don’t have much of value to offer any more – at least not something so scarce and unique that 2 college grads couldn’t deliver for half the price.

So with that, you may want to think: are you an expense, or do you bring in revenue? What is the real value in financial terms, that you bring to your employer or customer?

It would be great to see your comments below!