Why every entrepreneur needs to keep investing in themselves
Over the years, I’ve invested both my time and money into entrepreneurs and the businesses that they have built.
Despite their apparent previous lack of experience, I’ve watched some of the world’s most talented entrepreneurs grow into incredible, strong business leaders, running companies that turnover more profit than they ever imagined when they began.
These great leaders also demonstrate that they value their people through a blend of communication, team building, training and benefits that go beyond the levels of normal employer/employee transaction.
Indeed, last week I had the privilege of being part of the judging panel for the Keys Business Concierge Leader of the Year Award at The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, where 10 of the UK’s strongest leaders contended for the highest accolade – with Alan Rubenstein winning the coveted trophy. And I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate Alan and all of the finalists once more for their superb entries and indeed businesses!
On the flipside, I’ve also seen dozens of startups collectively make every rookie error and foolish mistake that business development books talk about.
I’ve observed the downfalls of entrepreneurs not hiring the right candidate, the repercussions of ignoring financial projections, being sloppy on cash flows and the fallout of an unclear pitch deck.
I’ve also observed the consequences of an unstable business model, leadership breakdowns and an unclear vision of where their customers are – in businesses that fail to thrive.
It’s often the case that entrepreneurs aren’t previously trained for the leadership role. They are simply people who came up with an idea and decided to build on it.
Over the years, I’ve come to realise that there’s a common denominator that rides through every excuse for business failure: the entrepreneur simply stops investing in themselves.
You see, in the first year or so, the most successful entrepreneurs invest an enormous amount of time into ensuring that they know their industry, their business model and their customers inside out. They have this hunger to be the best.
Yet, once they reach their first peak, their concentration shifts to managing and growing the business – leading them to ultimately forget the core entrepreneurial development that’s needed to keep the business flourishing – themselves!
It’s with this sentiment that I’d like to fight the case to every entrepreneur to keep working on and investing in themselves as a priority for their business’ growth.
Building on your knowledge
Let’s take it back to basics: when an entrepreneur first starts a business, they immediately invest in knowing everything about the industry, products, competitors and customers operating within that field.
They build on the knowledge that they already have and learn the key practices in fields like sales, advertising, marketing, admin and finance that they may not know otherwise.
But at some point, every entrepreneur starts losing the thirst for learning and developing on their knowledge. This isn’t necessarily because they feel like they know everything, but simply because they feel like they know enough to get them by.
Perhaps they do, but do they really know enough to get them over the hurdles to new levels of success?
I’ve found this not to be the case.
Without meaning to sound clichéd, knowledge is power – so you should never stop searching for it.
Networking and raising your business leader profile
No matter what your business does, entrepreneurs should always make time for networking and raising their profile. This includes investing the time into attending related industry events, speaking at conferences and being interviewed for profile pieces.
The reason for this is simple: the more people who both know and trust a person’s professional reputation, the more likely it is that they’ll do business with them.
Even after 30 years working in hospitality and being involved in some major decisions in my sector, I’m always meeting new people who are either a catalyst in helping to evolve the industry in some way or simply a useful contact to have.
Getting a business coach
Mentoring and business coaching is another very important catalyst in the early stages of growing a business – and a lot of the time these important people give entrepreneurs their services for free.
However, there reaches a point where they have to pay, which is an investment that puts a lot of early business leaders off.
But in the same sentiment as constantly learning through reading and attending courses, you can also learn some very practical lessons from a coach who’s been there, done that and got the sweat-stained T-Shirt to show it.
Regardless of whether your business is running smoothly or going through some turbulence, advice from someone with more experience can drive you a long way – and that external influence can play a huge part in helping every business leader process situations in a clearer way.
Caring for yourself
I’ve talked about this a lot in my previous blog posts, motivational talks and in the internal communications of my own businesses: care isn’t a luxury, it’s essential.
The biggest asset to every entrepreneur is their health – both mental and physical.
As is the case with everybody, if you don’t take the time to look after your health, it will have an enormous impact on all of your surroundings.
In the same way that a great business leader would create and execute a wellbeing strategy for their employees, they need to invest in their own wellbeing at work too.
If I’ve got a busy few months ahead of me, I tend to book out weekends in between to get away and play golf or participate in other sports activities.
Sporting breaks give me the opportunity to mentally recharge from work whilst keeping my body fit and healthy. What I’ve found – especially when I’ve taken the time out to hit the golf course – is that when I get back to work, I’m far more perceptive, energetic and empowered to make the best decisions – and so too will you be if you take the time to invest in yourself.Mark Cushway is the CEO of the Inspired Group of companies and is passionate about employee welfare, engagement and motivation. Connect with Mark on Twitter and LinkedIn. This blog post is also available as a podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud.