You are the business. Whether large or small, your business is an extension of you. You created the vision and have been an integral part of building the culture. Your employees, clients and strategic partners look to you for direction. You model the standard and set the tone whether you are aware of it or not.
In order to stay on top of our business and maintain our competitive edge we need to continually grow ourselves. Many owners get burned out and lose their edge. Some of this is due to stress and sometimes it’s because we stopped doing what we used to do to grow ourselves. In the beginning of a business we are on top of our game. We’re motivated. We have big visions. We’re hungry for success, excited to grow our business. We read, network, get up early and stay late. Then we get busy. Success comes and over time we can get complacent. Or we get too busy. Sometimes personal growth goes on the back burner or we stop taking care of ourselves.
I see this every day in the work I do – business owners are fried. I had one owner tell me last week that it would be a good year if she didn’t want to sell her business every few months. Other owners even come to hate the business they once dreamed of creating.
One of the solutions to this problem is to re-engage growing yourself as a human and a business owner. Below are some ways you to re-engage with your growth.
- Get honest. Do an honest assessment of where you are right now. Not where you have been, or where you want to be, but where you actually are right now. Maybe take an afternoon off site and do some writing. Doing an honest assessment of your attitude, your daily habits, your energy level, your commitment to the business. Also look at the culture you’ve created, the momentum in the business – all of it. We cannot fix what we can not acknowledge.
- Pick up a book. If you want to grow more – read more. I’ve read many articles about how the world’s top CEO’s read more non-fiction than the average person. There’s nothing wrong with fiction, yet the books that will grow us are the non-fiction books. In the early years of business, I read EVERYTHING I could get my hands on about my business and industry. Then there were years when I thought I was too busy – I was wrong. If I’m not reading, I’m not staying relevant. I’m not growing.
- Widen your circle. Go out and purposefully connect with people you would not normally connect with. Hang out with people smarter than you, people in different industries, people with different interests. As we get deeper into our industry and our own business our circles often get narrow. Part of this is due to the demands of the business and the other part of this is we get comfortable. When I began my own business almost 30 years ago I networked everywhere I could. I showed up, followed up and met people everywhere I went. Then business grew. I didn’t need to be out all the time and then one day I looked up and saw that my circle had become small. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely at times. If we are not careful, we can feel isolated and stunt our own growth. Hanging with only people like me narrows my perspective and does not challenge me to get outside my comfort zone.
- Grow your creative side. Business ownership requires creativity. The entrepreneur inside of us is very creative. It took creativity to start and grow our business. Then as the years go by, we often stop allowing our creative to direct the business. There are so many ways to reconnect with your creative side. One of the ways I try to spark my creativity is to try something I’ve never done before. By stepping completely out of my comfort zone and being a beginner I’m stretched. I see new things.
- Sign up for a class. What do you want to learn? What would you like to know more about? What would help you as an owner? What would help you grow your confidence level? There is a class for everything – especially now with online learning. Figure out what you what to learn more about and go find a course to take. Sometimes just being a student again re-engages our passion for our business and our own development.
- Get help. There are so many resources for business owners. You could hire a coach, consultant, join a mastermind group or get a mentor. You could go to SCORE, SBA, SBDC or a local business advising organization. No matter your pocketbook or need – there’s help out there. I’ve had the honor of working with both the SBA and now a local small bank providing free help to local business owners. I’ve hired coaches, been a part of many mastermind groups and have had advisory boards. I know I cannot do this business by myself – or maybe I could but I would never be as good as I am when I let others speak into my business.
- Change things up. We often function on auto-pilot. We go through our days without even thinking. Things become routine. We get bored, our people get stagnant. Everything from meetings to how we interact with people can become routine – they expect us to behave in certain ways. Most often we do exactly what people expect. They are times I get into my day and then realize I was just doing what I always do without even thinking about it. Changing things up re-engages our brain, helps us to become more present. Some things you can do include running your meeting differently the next time, answer the phone differently, sit in another area of your office, speak when you would normally stay quiet. Take the long way home, listen to a different type of music, put your watch on the other wrist. Changing things up can arouse our curiosity and engage our full selves.
No matter where you are right now, making growing yourself a priority will impact your business.