Having a business means never-ending responsibilities, sleepless nights, one hundred percent focus on your work, and never enough time for others or even for yourself. The best investment for entrepreneurs is to invest in themselves.
Entrepreneurs often forget that investing time, energy, and creativity in themselves is as important as investing money and mind on their businesses. Over time, this can result to fatigue, burnout, stress, and sometimes even low self-esteem for not getting the expected results from the rigorous work entrepreneurs put in. Having a little break once in a while is not bad, in fact, it can result in a continuous flow of creative juices, more energy for work, and expanded knowledge, to name a few.
The challenge, as an entrepreneur, is to continually work to improve yourself while successfully handling all that is required for your business to operate successfully. At times that may feel like attempting to change a flat tire on a car that is traveling 80 kilometers per hour. It is well documented that the best entrepreneurs are always focused on improving themselves in all areas of their lives.
These are the ten things that you should invest in that will increase your success rate as an entrepreneur — best part is they don’t all require money.
- Setting SMART Goals
Goal setting is the best way to transform lofty resolutions into bottom-line results. When entrepreneurs set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound) goals for themselves, they’re more like to achieve them.Running a businesses is really a personal and spiritual game, challenging you to break free of past habits and beliefs and ways of ‘being’ in the world. Every year set a self-improvement goal that helps you breakthrough some of this old patterning and conditioning.
Set personal and business goals and make them non-negotiable by taking steps to attain them. Let action educate you. If something is not working, assess, correct and move forward. Be unwavering in your commitment to see your goals through.
Goal setting means defining your objectives in pragmatic, measurable terms and identifying the time and resources you’ll need to attain them. That’s how you develop action plans. Once you know where you want to go, the next step is to figure out how you’ll get there and how much you’re willing to spend on the trip. If you’re not taking the time to set goals it’s like driving in the dark with the headlights turned off. You will not know where you’re going and you will waste precious time.
Exercise is beneficial for both your physical and mental health, and making time to exercise will boost your productivity.Research shows that exercise during the workday improves job performance and can lead to the development of new ideas, clearer thoughts and a boost in endurance, which are all very important for your business.
No matter how busy you are, take time to focus on becoming and staying healthy. Go to the gym, make good health and diet choices. The healthier you are, the better you’ll perform at work. Your mind, body, and business will thank you.Since entrepreneurs work long hours and have busy schedules, exercise should focus on high intensity over a short period of time. The adrenaline and energy gained from short, high-intensity workouts of at least 30 minutes will help your brain work more quickly and provide the energy needed to make it through the day.
- Personal Branding
It takes hard work and persistence to be successful. In addition to loving what you do, continually learning from others and building a great team around you, one of the most important things you can do is build your personal brand and reputation. For startup entrepreneurs a personal brand can be just as important as a corporate brand when developing your business strategy.
People buy from people that they know, like, and trust.
Showcasing yourself as a person can be a win when working as a solopreneur. Even if you are a bigger company, it’s always a good idea to show human faces behind your brand. For most businesses, a healthy dose of personality can improve engagement and sales. Personality, as you’ll discover, is more than a branding exercise. It’s an important way to provide proof the product delivers on its promises.
Most entrepreneurs are their brands and products, they must learn to use personalities in their marketing. Successful entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson give personalities to the companies they associate with as much as celebrity endorsements give personality to brands. Personalities just work.
Social networking platforms and mobile apps such as Periscope, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube allow entrepreneurs to build a brand at virtually no cost. Learn to harness the power of social networking to build and grow your brand. Promote your personal brand as much as possible and it will help your company to grow exponentially. It will also help others out there to follow in the path of your success.
- Personal Finance
Most entrepreneurs are not very good at managing their personal finances. Two of the primary reasons that entrepreneurs run into problems with their personal finances is that managing their finances is a low priority and the pay period of an entrepreneur can sometimes be sporadic and not always the same as for people who hold traditional jobs.
Entrepreneurs need to have a clear picture of their personal finances, an easy way of doing this is to create a one-page report of their finances and update it on a monthly or fortnightly basis. Included should be a list of monthly expenses, current assets, and income. By creating a one-page analysis of personal finances, entrepreneurs can make changes and have a clear picture of where they stand.
If you take care of your finances starting today, they will take care of you when you most need them. When you are old, or sick, or sending your kids to school, or helping a parent through sickness, your finances will help you. If you don’t take care of your finances you will end up in debt. Your shoulders will droop and your mind will be gripped by thoughts of money. You will end up living the life of an indebtedness, where you have to work to pay of your debts.
To begin taking care of your finances, you need to have more income than you spend. You need to have more savings in your bank account than your spendings. As long as you have a positive cashflow, you can get other things in your life a lot easier. If you don’t have a positive cashflow, spend the next year or two to get a positive one.
Creativity doesn’t have to diminish as we get older. In fact, it is believed that the peak of creativity in most people is around 30-40 years old. Creativity can be the catalyst in the manifestation of continual learning and lifelong activity. It allows us to be inspired, have fun and appreciate the beauty in the world.
Engaging in creative activities can help you know yourself more, learning new things you can contribute to your business. While finding time to do other activities after work seems difficult, it helps to plan ahead of time and write down things you plan to do or put them in your schedule. In the long run, investing creativity in yourself can help you come up with new and fresh ideas for your business and you will be more open-minded to future opportunities.
- Continuous Learning
Personal development is arguably the most important focus area for an entrepreneur. Regardless of how well your current venture is doing, it’s imperative that you adopt a forward thinking mentality and invest in continual learning. This is the only way to prepare yourself for the future.
Great entrepreneurs understand that continual learning is critical to the survival of their business. Learning can happen in so many ways. You can learn by reading books and blogs, watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, enrolling in online classes, immersing yourself in the people you’re surrounded by on a daily basis, attending seminars, webinars, etc. Interviewing successful individuals also helps as they can give you insights from their experience.
By making a regular commitment to learning, you’ll make yourself a lot more valuable to your company by expanding your knowledge of your field and positioning yourself as an expert. You’ll become a well-rounded entrepreneur.
The biggest problems in the world arise because of miscommunication. People misunderstand each other. Take care of your communication. Become a communication master. Become someone who can communicate clearly and effectively – not just in your speaking, but in your writing and your thoughts.
If you can explain things to a 10 year old, you can explain them to anyone. This is one of the most important thing you can do for your communication. If you communicate at the 6th grade level, your communication will be understood every time. Your kids will understand you, your parents will listen to you, your employers will get you.
By learning the vocabulary of what you are doing, you will learn faster; you will be understood quicker; and your responses will be to the point. The sooner you learn the vocabulary of your profession, the faster you will progress.
Networking and making new connections is an investment that can pay off big for you and your business. Find a few quality events in your industry or niche to attend. Don’t always limit yourself to your geographic area – it’s worth it to travel to be present at a conference that can change your life and business drastically.
Networking events improve your networking and communication skills. This ultimately results in having more referrals for your business, and that is good because business referrals are much cheaper than advertising and they creates more opportunities for repeat business. By connecting with the right people and building proper relationships, you can immediately see increase in your business – just from associating higher.
Investing to support new and emerging startups in their journey can aid you in networking with other entrepreneurs and investors, which is a savvy way to continue enhancing your brand. In the process, you can keep up with new business strategies and technology that can keep you viable and vital in the years to come.
A good coach or mentor is an invaluable resource for you and your business. Someone to bounce ideas off of and look to for inspiration and guidance is priceless.
You can’t possibly know everything on your own. Learn how to improve yourself and your business by talking to successful entrepreneurs. Check around your own area for face-to-face meetings or follow entrepreneurs on sites such as Twitter, Google Plus or LinkedIn. Every bit of knowledge helps you to improve your own performance.
A mentor is your partner in success. It is their job to assist you in creating and implementing your success plan, so you can become the best that you can be. Having a mentor empowers you by steering you clear of pitfalls that most entrepreneurs fall into. You’re able to save time and money by using proven systems instead of guessing, trying and failing over and over again.
- Using Social Media
Part of creating business buzz is making yourself more visible, and the simplest step to achieve that is developing a social media presence and engaging with your customer base.
First, ensure your website is up to date. Invest the resources necessary to make sure your site is mobile friendly, equipped with user-friendly click-to-call and sign-up features, and designed to convert site visitors into paying customers.
Next, pick your platforms carefully so that you target your efforts on sites where your customer base is active and avoid wasting your time and posts on sites that aren’t suited to your product, service or brand. Then start building visibility.
Leverage social media to drum up business, educate potential customers about your products and services, and engage with customers to build brand loyalty. Investing some money into Facebook ads, for instance, can jump-start buzz around your brand and not only get your name in front of new customers but also keep it in front of past customers to generate repeat business.
Do remember to be on your best behavior when using social media though, as that can either earn you an army of fans or cost you your business. Moreover, remember to keep your personal and business brand separate.
You are your greatest asset. Put your time, effort, and money into grooming and developing your greatest asset. You have to take care of yourself, focus on your own needs and constantly learn in order to improve your performance. The more you work to improve the most important asset in your business, the better your business will perform as well. Remember, you are the engine of the business.
What other ways can entrepreneurs improve themselves?