1. Commit to Continuous Personal Development (CPD)
Nearly every one of the small business owners I interviewed stressed the importance of always developing or educating yourself in some way.
Many of them described this as a flaw in themselves and I am very aware that it also leads to much frustration.
The average business person understands acquiring a physical asset. It is tangible, it will be around for a number of years (hopefully!) and it will help them to make money.
Spending money on personal development is first of all seen as an unaffordable cost and not as an investment. Furthermore, you cannot readily understand the connection between your growth and the growth of the business.
But as many of my interviewees eventually discovered, your business will only grow as fast and as far as you grow personally.
Think about it...you simply cannot run a $10 million business with a $1 million mindset...
No surprise then, that Continuous Personal Development is on the list as one of the preferred business solutions. I call it the habit of lifelong learning.
I truly get this because it’s the foundation on which my entire training and development business is built. Helping small business owners to develop and grow themselves is my passion and purpose. It certainly is on my list of expert business solutions.
I am also fanatical about continuously developing and educating myself. Not only because it's a good business solution, it’s how I serve you best and it is also very rewarding personally.
So how do you commit to continuous personal development? How do you get it on your list of business solutions?
Here are some tips to help you:
Make it a Personal Priority
Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.
Develop a strategy for learning
Determine what you need to learn to grow your business and what you want to learn to improve your life. Combine these into your “to-learn” list. Then you can develop a step by step implementation plan.
Explore all your options for learning and choose the one that will work best for you. Remember, it is easy to try to do too much at once so take steps to avoid information overload.
Put what you learn into practice
Skills-based learning is useless if it isn’t applied to some problem or used in some way as part of your complete set of business solutions. For example, attending a course or reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program for practice.
Learning how to quickly build a team for your business in a workshop means little until you apply the knowledge to your business. If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice fast.
It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are actively reading and take it with you, so you can read when you have the opportunity. Kindle will help you to do this easily. But don’t stop at books. Read blogs, articles, newsletters…just read!
Learn in Groups
Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a lonely journey. Join organizations which teach skills. Workshops and group learning events can also make educating yourself a fun, social experience.
You will also make friends who will have business solutions which are sometimes just what you're looking for.
When you educate yourself, you can make better decisions in your business. You can grow your business faster and when you face problems, you can recover far more quickly than if you’re “uneducated.”
2 . Train and Develop Your Employees/Team
But even as they were expressing this fear, they were telling me that they think that having well-trained employees can possibly be included in their business solutions.
Huh!? A contradiction if ever there was one.
I am familiar with this problem because I have had several clients who felt that way as well. As a matter of fact, I had one client who said to me, “…you mad! Spend all this money in training people who will be leaving sooner rather than later?”
I really understand this. But my question back to him was: “what if you don’t train them and they remain in your business?”
Just as important as training and developing yourself, is training and developing your employees or team.
In my opinion and experience, even when you have only 2 employees, you need to be considering their development. You see, having well-trained employees is a great route to growing your business fast.
Furthermore, you might not be able to offer them the salary and compensation packages that a big business can. When you can't , you can still create opportunities for on-the-job training, coaching and mentoring. These can prove to be far more valuable and attractive to your employees than money.
Here are some strategies you can use to develop your employees:
- Training - Training employees sends a powerful message that you value them and this serves as a serious retention strategy. In addition, trained employees will almost always make fewer mistakes and this will save you time and money. Of course, this is not without it challenges but the benefits far outweigh those challenges.
- Mentoring – when done right, this is rewarding for you and your employees. As a small business owner, you would have acquired experience and experiences which are invaluable. You can use these to help your employees perform better on the job and in life generally.
- Coaching - It's a process in which a business owner or manager helps an individual or a team to do the best job that they are capable of doing. It includes aspects of teaching and training, as well as observation and feedback.
In addition, coaching serves as an effective communication tool. It also leads to engaged employees and helps to let you know what employees need to improve. And if that’s not enough, it also enhances your performance as an employer and team leader.
If you’re really serious about selecting great business solutions for your business, then training and developing your employees must be one of them.