Taking time out for self-growth is by far one of the best things a business owner can do to secure a winning future. You’ll be surprised to know how investing in personal growth can contribute to business success. Self-growth boosts creativity, confidence, and motivation. It persuades us to create systems in our personal and professional lives that lead us to success.
Business owners and entrepreneurs have to wear multiple hats and may not always be able to find time to invest in their personal growth. However, self-growth cannot be achieved at random. It’s a continuous process that requires dedicated efforts and time.
Below are 5 tips that’ll help you focus on self-growth, transform you into a better business professional, and steer you towards success:
1. Be a Ruthless Prioritizer
The power of ruthless prioritization cannot be trivialized. Life as a business owner can get so busy that personal priorities and self-growth goals tend to take a back seat.
Business-related tasks and responsibilities can never disappear, but we can definitely plan ahead and prioritize tasks to get organized and make time for ourselves. I like to use Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle to classify tasks and prioritize like a pro.
Master the art of delegation. Trust your subordinates with smaller tasks and gradually delegate bigger responsibilities to them, thereby maximizing productivity and making time for yourself. I often play to my team’s strengths or train them on managing critical business tasks. This leaves me time to focus on personal growth. Effective delegation not only keeps us sane amidst tight deadlines but also helps us focus on ourselves.
Remember to allocate time to the person who matters most – You! Prioritizing tasks will leave you enough time to invest in your creativity, self-confidence, knowledge, health, and relationships.
2. Learn to Say No. Period.
There’s a lot we can learn from Warren Buffet. The American business magnate puts it across in simple words – “Really Successful People Say No To Almost Everything.” The primary reason why modern business owners and entrepreneurs have less self-time is because of their inability to say no when required.
Resist the urge of being wired to the perpetual yes mode. Say no to unproductive tasks and requests that continuously consume your time and energy. This will help you find the much-needed me-time to define life’s priorities and reflect on your personal growth.
Make it a policy not to take business calls on weekends. Let your stakeholders know and respect the fact that weekends are personal time. Similarly, you can design a policy to eliminate late nights at work by forbidding meetings after 6 pm.
Being consistent with this policy will help you overcome the guilt and anxiety that come along with saying no. You not only create a positive work culture, but also make time for self-development.
Further, getting rid of unproductive tasks will free up your cognitive space, allowing you to pursue self-improvement strategies like enrolling for an online course or attending a workshop for small business owners.
“The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.” – Tony Blair
3. Befriend Technology
Technology has been enabling entrepreneurs and business owners to adapt quickly to the changing business needs, allowing them to make better use of time and resources. For instance, the cloud offers immense flexibility allowing business owners to access data from any location and using different devices. Project management and collaboration tools, such as Trello, Harvest, and GSuite can help you focus on multiple tasks without wasting too much time.
Similarly, email marketing automation tools enable business owners to organize their customers’ email addresses and send targeted emails, deal notifications, and product information in a scheduled manner without having to get into the nitty-gritty.
Besides, modern technology is redefining learning experience for entrepreneurs and business owners. Several online learning platforms are offering immersive educational experience through web and mobile apps. These platforms provide business professionals and busy entrepreneurs learning beyond the classroom by helping them upgrade their skills from any part of the world.
Going tech savvy not only makes life easy but also helps you save time. Using high-tech tools can help you stay on top of your tasks and fuel personal growth.
4. Eliminate Distractions
Many business owners unknowingly waste a huge chunk of their day accomplishing tasks that can be easily delegated or avoided. A study by Inc. reveals that business owners waste a staggering 21.8 hours a week. That’s almost one day lost! Imagine what you could achieve in that time.
Eliminating the common time wasters can significantly increase the amount of time available for self-growth.
Here are a few time-wasters you should avoid to make time for yourself.
Spending Excessive Time Online
A Vertical Response survey reveals that 43 percent of business owners spend 6+ hours per week on social media, surfing websites, emailing, and going through apps. The fear of missing out (FOMO) often compels us to keep checking connected devices, thereby wasting too much time online.
To make time for yourself it’s critical to challenge the dominance of social media in our lives. Block the distraction of the online world using various apps. These apps allow you to block your social accounts and the internet, allowing you to focus on self-development.
Similarly, emails are time-sucking black holes that can cause you to lose focus. Set a specific time of the day to check and respond to emails. Better still, avoid checking emails until you have finished important tasks.
Building relationships is critical for every business owner, however, there’s a fine line that separates networking and wasting time in meaningless socializing. It is easy to lose time in such random networking that does nothing for your personal growth. Therefore, it’s best to avoid such chatty situations. For instance, if you have set time aside to upskill yourself by taking an online course, make sure you wear headphones to focus and keep random schmoozers at bay. Alternatively, don’t shy away from asking the person to get back to you at lunch break or after you have finished the task at hand.
Futile Business Meetings
A business owner is required to keep a bird’s eye view on various business operations. Although meetings help us do just that, it’s important to not waste time on unstructured and pointless meetings. Did you know, American businesses alone waste USD 37 billion per year in unnecessary meetings? Avoid drowning yourself in pointless meetings. If you must attend one, make sure it has a clear agenda, allowing you to reclaim your time for self-improvement activities.
“By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” – Christopher Columbus
5. Use Idle Time Effectively
Downtime doesn’t always have to be unproductive. Those idle moments when you are traveling or waiting for a customer can be spent doing meaningful activities like recording goals in a bullet journal, social listening, reading a self-development book or a business article, listening to Ted Talks, or learning a new language. Make a conscious effort to pursue value-adding activities during your idle time, thereby fostering personal growth.
Running a business isn’t easy. Most business owners spend so much time and resources in scaling their venture that they are unable to find any personal development time. Use the effective tips shared in this post to make time for self-growth in your jam-packed schedule.
With everything you need to do during the day, how do you find time to get it all done? Share your tips and advice below!
9 Support Networks All Entrepreneurs Need to Succeed in Business
Entrepreneurship is a lonely, but rewarding venture but you don’t have to go at it alone. While new business owners are advised to have an accountant and lawyer on their team, there’s rarely mention about the support networks you need as you start and grow your business. The people in these networks keep you focused, motivated and accountable. They are sources of encouragement, ideas, referrals and resources. Additionally, they give you feedback, constructive criticism and guidance.
Regardless of which stage your business is in, you’re going to need support. It’s best to establish your support systems as soon as you consider starting your own business. Then, cultivate those relationships as your business grows. Following, are the 9 support networks entrepreneurs need to succeed.
A mentor is someone who has experience in the area in which you need help and is willing to help you. They provide direction and guidance, and shorten your learning curve by months, even years. Mentoring relationships can be formal or informal, in-person or virtual. Generally speaking, the mentor gives more than the mentee. However, the mentee can reciprocate by checking in periodically and asking if he or she needs anything. When contacting your mentor for advice or check-ins, be respectful of his or her time.
2. Accountability Partners (AP)
Accountability partners are the most important support person in your network. They hold you accountable for completing short-term projects. This is either a free or paid virtual relationship that requires commitment from both parties.
Here’s how this relationship works: You tell your AP the project you’re working on, the estimated completion date and desired result. Send a tentative outline of the steps required to complete the project. You both set a mutually convenient check-in schedule.
During check-ins, you will give an update on your progress, discuss challenges and next steps and ask for advice, if needed. You could also brainstorm ideas. Your partner can be a mentor, coach, friend or colleague. Essentially, it is anyone committed and invested in your success.
Coaches help you develop personally or professionally. You hire and pay them for a set amount of time, although the time could be extended upon agreement by both parties. You can work with multiple coaches simultaneously. Be sure the people you’re considering hiring are qualified to help you before investing in their services. Also remember that you can fire them if they don’t provide the service and support you need.
4. Mastermind Groups
Mastermind groups are small groups that help you move forward professionally and keep you accountable in your endeavor. The group meets on a regular basis and each team member has a turn to discuss his or her successes and challenges, brainstorm ideas and consider possible solutions based on suggestions from team members. They meet in-person or virtually over a long or short-term period. These groups can be formal or informal and with paid or unpaid memberships.
5. Online Groups
Online groups are very convenient when you need help, especially when you spend most of your time online. Most groups are either on Facebook or LinkedIn. The most effective groups have active moderators that post frequently and hold members accountable.
The benefits of these online groups include, but are not limited to, meeting new and cool people, giving and receiving help and accountability. In addition, you’ll develop relationships that may grow offline.
In order to benefit from these groups, though, you have to be active. Don’t just appear with the expectation of getting help or drop in periodically. Be prepared to share your knowledge and experiences consistently. Memberships to online groups are typically free.
Check out Meetup.com to connect in-person with people with similar interests in business, hobbies or fitness. In addition to meeting people and learning new things, there may opportunities to conduct presentations and workshops. You may also connect with potential partners for business projects. Most meetups are free to attend however, some events require a small fee.
7. Professional Organizations
These member-based organizations cater to professionals in specific professions and industries. Continuing education, updates on industry news and laws, and networking opportunities are just a few benefits they offer. You have to pay annual dues, as well as registration fees for monthly meetings and other events.
Friends are your foundation. They will listen to you, encourage you, and be honest with you, even if you don’t like it. When they may not know what you’re talking about. They may even ask clarifying questions and offer suggestions. Most importantly, they will comfort you during challenging times.
9. Business Development Centers
Your business growth is their priority. They have counselors and partners to help you at all levels of business. They hold workshops, seminars, conferences and networking events, sometimes in partnership with organizations who want to reach business owners. They offer opportunities to pitch and present your business to investors and banks for funding. And they connect you with other business owners who can become clients or partners. Counseling services are free, but you do have to pay for workshops, conferences and other special events and services.
5 DIY Skills That Will Take Your Entrepreneurial Journey to New Levels
An entrepreneur can be any person who builds and operates their own business. Entrepreneurs take on a greater risk than that of people who are employees of a business. Because of risks such as financial uncertainty, business oppositions and career stability, entrepreneurs possess unique skills not everyone has.
Make no mistake, entrepreneurs aren’t always born with these skills. Many obtain their business expertise by learning and growing in their industry. Whether you are struggling with your startup plan or wish to make your startup standout, you’ll need a specific set of skills to thrive.
You may already know some of these skills but you simply need to improve them. Take a look at these 5 DIY skills every entrepreneur needs:
1. The Ability to Communicate Eloquently
Every entrepreneur needs to be an effective communicator whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or you run a company with over 600 employees. You need to understand how to communicate effectively with business partners, customers and employees you deal with on a daily basis.
If you have underdeveloped communication skills, the growth of your business will suffer. Your success at getting your point across clearly can be the difference between sealing a deal and missing out on a potential opportunity.
When you’re an entrepreneur you should be able to express yourself concisely in the following scenarios:
- Clearly explain policies and procedures to customers and clients
- Answer any questions about your products and services
- Public speaking during conferences or presentations
- Friendly but fair demeanor towards your employees
Effective communication can foster excellent relationships with customers, employees and business partners. In turn, your relationships with everyone involved in the business will improve morale and efficiency.
Here are a few ways you can improve your communication skills: Active listening, understanding non-verbal signs, maintaining eye contact, assertiveness and dealing with different points of views.
2. A Talent for Sales
Having a talent for sales is a skill that will help you go far as an entrepreneur. This is especially true if you’re a merchant. If you’re selling goods you need to be able to sell anything and be knowledgeable about your product. As an entrepreneur, you’ll also need to know how to sell your business ideas to potential investors
Sales representatives are known for their tenacity. They’re extremely persistent in their pursuit to sell. Persistence is important in a business because a sale rarely happens on the first contact. Such resilience is vital to entrepreneurs who have to experience failure before succeeding.
Having a talent in sales will make you a successful entrepreneur because you’ll excel in these areas:
- Share ample knowledge about products and services
- Strategic prospecting
- Building rapport with clients
- Sourcing new business effectively
- Gaining customer loyalty
Sales reps care about results but the way they achieve this is by being relentless and never giving up on their target.
3. Excellent Problem Solving Skills
In any business, there will be a few obstacles you’ll need to overcome in order for your business to grow. The good news is there will always be a solution to every problem; you simply have to think outside the box.
In order to solve problems effectively, you need to be extremely decisive. Sometimes this will require you to make decisions on the spot when a problem arises. As a novice entrepreneur, know that it’s acceptable to make mistakes; sometimes your decisions won’t be the best but they will help you grow your problem-solving skills.
Not everyone will agree with your products and services but this is a good way to test your problem-solving skills. For example, you’ve started up a food business but people may not be happy that there are no animal-free options. The way you can solve this problem is by implementing vegetarian and vegan dishes to your menu.
4. An Aptitude for Negotiations
Entrepreneurs face many challenges, especially when presenting innovative ideas to help expand the business. One skill needed which can guarantee the success of any entrepreneur is the ability to negotiate. Excellent negotiation skills can help you close deals and gain a positive reputation. While not all entrepreneurs have negotiation skills you can learn if you apply yourself.
An effective negotiation skill is to always be prepared. Have all your documents in place when you’re having a meeting and be equipped to answer any questions or inquiries effectively. When negotiating, always keep your emotions under control. Know that everyone has different opinions and you must be responsive in a professional manner when dealing with these views.
Make sensible compromises when negotiating. This means you shouldn’t give away anything unless you’re receiving something in return. Both parties need to understand this concept and need to accept any changes going forward.
If you’re negotiating because a problem arose with your products or services, try to write up policies and procedures for your company. Make them visible to all people connected to the business so you’re always covered legally.
5. Be Knowledgeable in your Field
No one will do business with someone who doesn’t know their own products and services. That’s why it’s imperative to have ample knowledge of the products and services you sell. You can then answer questions on the spot and give your clients in depth detail about what you can offer them.
A successful entrepreneur knows all the ins and outs of his or her business. This includes how products work, the materials used to manufacture them and if they’re safe to use. Make sure you know the process of your business and how you conduct your services. This will build excellent rapport with your clients.
Becoming an entrepreneur is something many people wish they could achieve but not everyone is brave enough to take the risk. What people don’t realize is that the skills are within reach if you’re only willing to learn. Simply tap into them by expanding your knowledge and build skills through experience.
The Secret to Becoming the Most Desirable Person to Do Business With
Marketplace distinction is a very important factor in business today. You might have discovered that several other businesses offer the same or similar solutions that you do. This creates tough competition to get customers.
Being first to the market often gives an initial edge but that doesn’t last as innovation and marketing strategy changes the expectation and taste of customers. Blockbuster Video was once an industry leader but now it is eclipsed and out of business because of Netflix. There was a time Blackberry phones were at the top of the smartphone world as well. Now they have been outclassed in that market.
You must have noticed also that the companies with the best products and services are not always the ones with the best business. In fact, it is a common notion that smaller companies often offer better services than their larger competitors. This perhaps is because of the fact that they have smaller clients and can offer more tailored solutions and customer service. However, the majority still keep rushing to the largest companies in the industry. The common assumption is that the product or service is better, but in several cases, it’s not.
Becoming the company with the best business in the industry depends on how desirable you are to do business with as an entrepreneur. And if the business is a large corporation, the business depends on how desirable the managers and company representatives are as well.
We live in a day and age where clients and customers are emotionally driven towards making a purchase and then create a logical reason to back up their emotions. Nobody buys if the logic says yes but the emotions say no. This is why several companies today are trying to associate their brand with known social vices. You do remember the Nike ad with Colin Kaepernick and the Gillette ad that sparked a lot of discussion on social media. You don’t have to go that far if you don’t want to as there is another way.
“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.” – Kevin Stirtz
There is a local community I once had to live with. The community was famous for its spiced roasted meat. It was sold on the street by the locals. When people come around to buy from them and speak English, they sell at their usual prices. But if you approached them and spoke their native language, they will be beaming with smiles and you can walk away with as much as a 50% discount. Why? The most beautiful thing to the ears of any person is their own language, especially when they least expect it.
This can be flipped into the business world too. Instead of triggering an emotional downpour on social media, you can target your audience and make them yours. It is the way to become the most desirable person to do business with. Speak the language of your customers.
Below, are the 2 steps to becoming the most desirable person to do business with whether you have a big company or are a one person operation:
1. Identify where your customers are
It’s difficult to know who your customers are without knowing where they are. A smart way to learn where the customers are is to conduct a survey of the customers you have already and find out how they learned about your company. The survey will seek to understand their reason for doing business with you and it might not be what you think.
The survey should also seek to understand what all your current customers have in common. It might be another product or service offered by another company complementary to yours. It might be a certain location. It might be a specific industry. The purpose of this is to pinpoint a waterfall of potential clients.
2. Identify what your customers want to hear
You have probably heard of trigger words. Yes, they do exist but they vary depending on the type of clients or customers you serve. You learn the words by listening to them. The purpose is not to manipulate the customers but to create an emotional connection with them when you talk about the solution you offer them. There are clients who walk away from the solution they need just because they did not connect with the one offering the solution. So make sure you are listening to them and figuring out a way to create an emotional connection.
The decision of the client to do business with you is not hinged on how awesome your product or services are, rather it is based on how well you understand their problem. They are going to know how well you understand their problem with how fluent you speak their language. And that is the secret to being the most desirable person to do business with.
3 Ways You Can Get Back to Basics While Accelerating Your Business Growth
Young kids are a living, breathing, walking and talking reminder of how important the basics are. They usually underestimate simple everyday tasks and create new chaos in the process. This creates a real time reminder for themselves, and everyone around them, of how important getting back to the basics are. If you have ever watched a baby try to walk or eat, something you do every day, this is very clear.
A growing business is much like a growing child. Rapid growth during the first few years, independence and confidence as the idea grows into a profitable business, and eventually adolescent rebellion once the taste of success comes in. As a business grows, change becomes inevitable, and can very often be unmanageable and overwhelming.
A business can also experience growing pains. From adding staff, to something as simple as time management, the growth of a business can sometimes be more stressful than the death of a business. Success hinges on adaptability, but it is equally important to take time to recognize what got you started when the business was just an idea.
Here are some of the stages your business may be going through, and the way to adapt and grow effectively and efficiently:
1. The terrible twos
As your company grows, the expectations of it and you will change. You are no longer the new kid on the block with limitless potential. Sticking to your core values and adapting to change becomes a full-time balancing act. Very often this early onset of success allows you to hire more people and expand your reach. Especially in companies experiencing hockey stick growth, you may have forgot to create a corporate culture when it was just a few of you in a garage.
Even if you are in an early stage of your company it is important to document the work you are doing and create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and expectations of every task you are completing alone. Once you hire someone, it will be much easier to train them if you can hand them a document telling them this is how you do it.
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin
2. The tween years
People can get so busy working in their business that they forget to work on it. Be sure to notice the borders of your company and plan how to broaden them. As a company now with profits, employees and resources, you’re keeping busier than ever, but not sure what is next. Much like a child still needs their parents for some of the basics like food and shelter, during this stage of business, coaches and mentors are so important. Be sure to surround yourself with people who are where you want to be and learn from them. This is the make or break point for many businesses so make sure you are working and surrounding yourself with the right people.
3. Entrepreneur adolescents
Many teenagers feel like an adult, because physically and mentally they feel like they are there, but socially and economically they are not even close in most cases. Success can be blinding and create this same false positive for a growing company. Success can create a comfortable bubble that can distract from further growth. The comfort can create slip-ups and mistakes. Be mindful, and don’t let progress slow you down.
During this stage of business, coaches and mentors are still a key factor to success. They may not be the same ones you had in earlier stages, but the great thing about today’s market place is you can find someone out there to get the advice and guidance you may need. In this phase it very well can be a peer or someone on the same level.
So, what can you do about this day to day? Read below:
1. Back to the Future
Go back to old emails, files, photos, and reminisce. Every venture has a beginning. The photos and emails you have recorded and collected can be just as much an inspiration as your current goals and challenges. Make sure you have the TimeHop app on your phone, this will help jog your memory.
2. Get feedback
Talk to clients and get feedback. We get many chances to talk to new clients, but make sure you go back and question old clients to understand their perspective on your work and business. Ask them about the changes they have noticed and whether the same kind of qualities are still there when they started with you.
“No company can afford not to move forward. It may be at the top of the heap today but at the bottom of the heap tomorrow, if it doesn’t.” – James Cash Penney
3. The Social Network
Networking is key as well, both on and offline. Listen to new people and new customers. You will see plenty of new faces along your journey up, make sure you are receptive and accepting of the new kinds of ideas these people bring along with them. Rigidity can kill a business. Make sure you are networking with the right people online via social media. During all stages of growth, it is so important to be networking in person locally, and make sure you get on a plane and go to an event!
Remember, a business is run by people, and as a CEO and Entrepreneur, you are a person. Make sure you keep growing your business, because if you’re not growing your dying.
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