Are you treating your profession like a trade or vice versa?

While nearly everything has nuance to it, I’ve often defined a trade as something that can you learn in near entirety, while a profession is something that continually evolves and has to be kept up with.

Entrepreneurship done well is a profession. As you keep up with industry trends, labor market conditions, update offerings and more you have to stay in the ever changing knowledge loop.

Painting is closer to a trade. There are only so many techniques, situations, and materials to learn. It may change a bit over time, but there is little that is critical that will put you at a massive disadvantage if you don’t know it.

As it turns out, you can be both in some ways, though often the path moves from trade to profession. The painter who starts his own business may be doing both at first, however, if successful enough at the business, they will become primarily an entrepreneur and much less of a painter as they hire people to do the actual painting.

I’ve seen people on both sides behave like they are the other. I’ve seen tradesman treat their craft as something that hasn’t yet found every opportunity to deliver the highest quality. I’ve seen these people create some beautiful new state-of-the-art in their craft as they try to push the envelope.

I’ve also seen professionals treat their industry as a trade. They choose not to learn more, and not to evolve with the times. They stagnate as everyone else is learning and sharing. They fall behind.

Understand the situation your career is in, it will help you know the responsibility that rests on your shoulders.