Most folks end up working in an office-based business, though a growing number of people are working virtually. And for some, the dream is a home-based business.

But in each of these cases, on the left side of the hyphen is a location. Is that really what's most important?

The fact is, the vast majority of people work for other-based businesses. Someone else's company. Someone else's product or service. Someone else's customers. Someone else's structure of titles, compensation, work patterns, and direction. And, frequently, there is a mismatch. We experience the deep discomfort of not fitting in a certain company or role.

Let's think about a different approach. Why don't we change the default mentality from what others say we should be doing, to what we really should be doing?

In other words, let's think about a You-Based Business.

What is a You-based Business?

First of all, it starts with a look backward. An audit---an inventory of all the roles and responsibilities you've held---with an eye to identifying the key two to three strengths and competencies that truly make you shine. Most of us have worked in a number of roles that have more (or less) suited our makeup. Those past efforts provide the clue to figure out what are our genuine professional strengths.

Next, we take a look inward. Based on our backward look, what is our professional DNA? Are we really great leading people, or do we do best with independently-fulfilled tasks? Are we introverted, or extroverted? Are we more strategic minded, or tactical? Where and when do we experience our most creative energy? Are we suited to work on our own as an entrepreneur, or do we really desire a team? This personal/professional profile is a vital element in helping us understand what types of role will be our best match.

After this, we take a look forward. One of my goals, when I started my own business, was to have a portable company in which I could eventually do my work from any location. What are your long-term passions and goals? How does the current career track you're on lead toward (or away) from the place you really want to be? Remember: Your employer keeps you on the payroll to fulfill their goals, not yours. You have to take responsibility for directing your path in your chosen direction, because no one else is going to do that for you.

A you-based approach may lead you to start your own business---or it may lead you to a far more precise understanding of how you'd best fit in someone else's company. Either way, you start with you, not with the next title up the advancement ladder.

For many of us who are in our 30s, 40s, or 50s, there is now enough accumulated experience and business savvy to start exploring new options. Designing the rest of your career around you is now a more viable option than ever before.

Get clear on you. Then get clear on your direction. Take charge and make the rest of your career you-based.

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image of Steve Woodruff

Steve Woodruff is the world's only Clarity Therapist. He connects people with their purpose, their message, and with other people in order to create new business opportunities. He writes at the

Steve is an unusual hybrid of conceptualizer, strategist, marketer, analyst, wordsmith, semi-techie, and all-around decent fellow, except when there's bad coffee or lousy wine.

Steve can also be found on Twitter, LinkedIn.