Invest in Yourself

Part of being an effective leader of your small business is to be able to make sense of the numbers and to avoid profitability pitfalls!  Understanding how to invest in yourself is important because your business must be able to understand the value of you as a leader investing in yourself in order for your business to remain competitive and grow in an ever-changing business environment.

Practicing self-development is the gateway for improving every competency, and it should not be ignored.

  • Failing to invest in people. Too many business owners hire too cheaply, Gunderson says. This is flawed thinking. Instead, they should be hiring the best. They should also invest in the technology and expertise that allows them to streamline procedures and to eliminate the necessity to duplicate processes wherever possible as the company grows.
  • Thinking that simply working harder will move your business ahead. The least understood and most valuable commodity towards growing a business is strong vision. Create the opportunity for them to step up, and in most cases, particularly if you’ve hired and trained correctly, they won’t disappoint.”
  • Thinking you have to work more to get more. “If you’re making $100K a year and you find out others in your role are making $125K a year you’re suddenly unhappy,” Gunderson says. “But when you really address the strategy of your company, you’ll recognize the ways to increase your efficiency, your team’s productivity, and the reach of your business–and your profitability and income–without working more, simply working more strategically and better with the resources you already have, or are within your available reach.”
  • They don’t know how to listen. A critical skill for people wanting to develop their personal capabilities is to become an effective listener. Those who are not good listeners end up working on issues that they think are important, but may not be the most critical areas. Good listening skills include being able to listen for content as well as for the feeling of the other person.
  • They aren’t open to ideas of others. Some people’s initial response to any suggestion or new idea is negative. They may believe their own ideas are better, or they may be offended that others would be so presumptuous as to offer feedback. Whatever the origin, reacting negatively to feedback discourages others from offering suggestions or ideas. This severely curtails the self-development process.
  • They aren’t honest with themselves. People who speak honestly and say what they believe seem to be more prone to face facts about themselves. When people are not completely honest with others, they tend to be dishonest with themselves as well. Self-deception is the process of denying or rationalizing facts that are difficult to accept, often because they hit too close to home. The facts demand changes in thinking or behavior. Self-development only occurs, however, when people can face the reality that they need to acquire new skills or knowledge.
  • They don’t take time to develop others. Development is contagious. When leaders develop others, some of that development is bound to rub off. When leaders engage in self-development activities it sends a strong signal that they believe in and practice developing other people as well.
  • They don’t take initiative. Acquiring new knowledge, learning new skills, or changing practices requires initiative. Initiative always means extending yourself beyond what is expected of or defined by your role. It means seeing something that is about to fall through the cracks and stepping forward to resolve it. Frequently, we assume that great talent comes from luck or innate ability. The truth is that great talent is a function of practice and opportunity- seeking.
  • Overcome Self-Doubt and Build a Profitable Business – tips for defeating doubt and directing your energy toward more productive ways of thinking.
    • Stop worrying about what others think. – When you spend all your time and energy trying to manage other peoples’ perception of you, you’ll get stuck in an inadequacy loop. There will always be someone who appears to be doing better, getting further or having more. Do not benchmark yourself against others’ accomplishments and possessions.
    • Set immediate goals. – In addition to adopting ambitious, long-term goals, remember to establish attainable, short-term ones. It’s easy to let doubt creep in when your big goals aren’t immediately realized. By achieving smaller goals along the way, you can constantly bask in frequent wins.
    • Remind yourself of prior successes. – When the uncertainty inevitably hits, instead of dwelling on negatives, reflect on what went right and recent achievements — with each accomplishment being another step along the path toward reaching bigger goals. Give yourself full credit for your triumphs.
    • Surround yourself with the right people. – No person is an island, as the saying goes, and that holds true for your business life as well. Keep the people who encourage you close and seek out their feedback on a regular basis. Distance yourself from individuals who are always pessimistic toward you, your business and your future prospects.
    • Be decisive but don’t fear a change of mind – When the time comes to make a decision, do not overexpend your energy dithering. In most cases, your first gut feeling is probably the right choice, so make a decision and move on.
    • Face your fears. – Finally, do not let fear or self-doubt dictate how you lead your personal life or operate your business. Regularly evaluate the worst-case scenarios as well as the risk-reward ratio and face the things that scare you head-on. But do not be afraid to change course if, down the line, you realize it wasn’t the right choice after all. That might seem like a contradiction, but it is not.

Professional development does not far exceed personal development.  In order to break through a business plateau, often times a personal breakthrough is required to make this happen.  Self development may be one of the least-utilized tools of an entrepreneur.