Small business owners face the paradox of needing to be all things to all people, whilst still only having the same 24 hours in the day as everyone else. But it’s the small business owner who will benefit most from improving their knowledge and skills. Here are some self-development ideas to boost your small business.
Where to focus your self-development
I’m sure you realise you need to improve your skills in certain areas, but it’s the old conundrum of “I don’t know what I don’t know”. So let’s start with what you DO KNOW.
- What aspect of your work life makes you uncomfortable?
- What aspect of your business is neglected because you’re not confident in doing what’s needed to improve it?
Be brutally honest with yourself. This is important. Your business will only ever grow as big as you let it. Your mindset and skills are either the accelerator or the brake for your business' growth.
Suggestions to boost your small business
Here are some suggestions of areas where you might want to focus and why:
- Marketing skills. This is all about being seen. Your business needs to be seen by the right people who are looking for what you provide. If you don’t know how to market your business appropriately, then you’ll eventually fail. Even if you outsource to a marketing specialist, you MUST learn the basics of marketing. If you don’t, you’ll risk being taken for a ride by unscrupulous companies that prey on business owners’ ignorance.
- Sales skills. This is a non-negotiable. You may resist selling because you have the impression of sales people as ‘sleazy’. This is simply not the case. You are probably your business’ best salesperson. You have the passion for your product/service and you know how it can help improve your customer’s life. Authentic selling is not about forcing people to buy from you. It’s about building relationships: the relationship between your customer and your business. It’s your job to lead the way where sales are concerned. If you’re not doing this, then you need to learn how to do it.
- Social skills. It follows that if you’re uncomfortable doing sales, then perhaps your social skills need help. You need to learn how to effectively network to build a referral base, and how to talk to customers when they respond to your marketing. You also need to know how to graciously handle complaints from customers.
- Public speaking. This leaves many small business owners shaking in their boots. Depending on your business, you may find that learning how to confidently speak in public will dramatically improve your business growth. It’s part of marketing your business. If you’ve got a phobia about speaking to a roomful of people, then learning this skill will definitely help you.
- Goal setting. Do you find yourself jumping from task to task, always busy but never really achieving anything? Ask yourself if you have really focused on goal setting. Perhaps you’ve told yourself there’s no point setting goals because something always happens that stops you from achieving it. If this is the case, then you need to learn how to set and achieve goals properly.
- Time optimisation. Small business owners frequently find themselves overworked and under-resourced. Optimising your time is not about doing more with less. It’s about making sure that the necessary things get done in a timely manner. You may need to consider here whether you’re a control freak who’s not delegating, or you’re a perfectionist who’s choking your business with unreasonable standards.
- Body and mind. Another important piece in the small business puzzle is the health of the owner. If you’re not healthy, in both body and mind, you’re a risk to your business rather than an asset. You know the old saying, “put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping others”. Outside the airline industry, it’s never been more applicable than it is to you and your business. If you’re not taking time out to focus on YOU, you’re risking burnout or worse.
- Personal relationships. Similarly, your personal relationships can suffer if you’re not looking after them. You need to work on maintaining relationships as they can underpin your resilience by providing support for the down times and someone with whom you can celebrate when things go well. Let’s be honest here, a breakdown in a personal relationship is exhausting for all parties, be it with your significant other, a family member, or even an employee. If you don’t take the time to work on those relationships, you risk spending unnecessary time on either repairing them or dealing with the end of them.
You, as the owner of your small business, are the lynchpin of your business. It will only survive and thrive if you do too.
Take the time now to assess what area/s of self-development will give you the best bang for your buck. Then make the effort to seek out help. Your business needs you to do this.