I’m often asked in media interviews for my top tips for business owners. I think they are expecting me to talk about success, passion, thinking big, etc but I often focus on growing yourself. I think it’s really important for business owners to learn and grow for themselves. For me it’s about finding, unleashing and developing your inner business owner. The more you grow, the more your business grows. What’s more if you don’t grow and your business does, then it’s possible it can outgrow your capabilities. Not good.
As a lecturer and educator it’s no surprise that I believe in personal development and finding a way of doing things your own way. So here are my five top tips on growing yourself as a business owner.
1) Accept that being a business owner means you will always be learning to develop your inner business owner
The very nature of business means that things are forever changing and developing. This means you always need to be changing and developing in order to keep up. If you were employed you would be sent on courses or be learning from those around you. Often as a self-employed one man band you forget about keeping up to date as you run just to keep things ticking over.
You do need to embrace the need to learn. Learning can be as simple as hearing about a new piece of technology from an online group discussion board. Maybe you read an article about a new business model in a book or a new business in your area in a local newspaper or it could be that you’ve learned a new tool, such as a social media platform or a new technique for your industry.
The key is to know what you need to be aware of but not implement, what you need to learn and use and what you need to embrace and implement to move forward.
2) Find a networking group you can attend regularly to keep you informed
Don’t think of networking just as a way of meeting potential clients. It can also be a great way of keeping up to date and informed about changes in business. Some networking groups may offer speaker slots to experts on topics which can really help keep you up to date. I often hear about new ideas, new services, learning opportunities and changes to things whilst at networking events. Just by talking to other business owners about what they are doing you can learn lots which can go on to help your business.
Try asking WHAT and HOW questions to help your learning
- WHAT are you doing differently in your business just now?
- WHAT’s hot for your sector currently?
- WHAT will you focusing on in the next six months?
- HOW will you do that?
- HOW will that affect your sector?
- HOW do you know that’s a good idea for your business/clients?
The responses to these are much more interesting at networking events than, “What do you do, and do you come here often?”
3) Look out for quick, low cost learning opportunities from others who have expertise in a topic
There are so many free or relatively cheap ways to learn and grow as a business owner. Examples are:
- free programmes
- case studies
- white papers
The list is endless. Find what works for you and the way you learn and ask other business owners what they use to keep up to date. Don’t get sucked in to trying to learn everything at once. Choose one area and concentrate on that before exploring other topics.
4) Find learning opportunities with real experts
There are lots of learning opportunities with experts such as attending courses, conferences or buying their programmes. Sometimes you need to find ones which can make a big impact on you and your business and these are often much more relevant to your needs, business or key areas of work. They tend to focus on you and your needs rather than being generic in nature. Look out for ones run by people you respect, those good solid, been there, seen it, done it, types who can really help you make a difference.
You could look for mastermind groups, turn around programmes, coaches, mentors or consultants who offer a way of working with you and your business to a much deeper level. They often look at you, your mind-set, your customers and how you can make changes which will really benefit your bottom line. Look for people offering these who have achieved for themselves and can demonstrate how they will make a difference.
They shouldn’t be selling you false promises. Be careful not to believe the hype as some will tell you they can make or take your business to a £1 million turnover, six figure turnover, or a property magnate. You name it, they will promise it. Instead ask what other people have achieved on their programmes. Can you speak to previous clients and see what differences their programme really had?
5) Don’t expect to know everything. Ask for help
Just that really. None of us know everything. Far too often business owners don’t ask for help because they are worried what people will think of them needing support. On the whole people have a healthy respect for those who reach out for help, and are often more than willing to give it.
Do you need help in your business and developing your inner business owner? Take a look at how I work as a mentor with business owners anywhere in the UK.