Personal Development

“You can’t develop yourself alone. Personal Development is so important, that’s why you need other people and other resources to grow and become a better business owner and leader.”

“Narrowing down how you want to grow will make taking the next steps of your development journey more manageable.”

Founding and growing a business is a tough job that requires you to give so much of yourself that you may feel like your business is your sole purpose and identity. Your wants and needs may get overshadowed by the demands of being an entrepreneur but don’t set them aside. Instead, embrace them because taking time to grow through personal development will have a positive impact throughout your company.

Personal development looks different to everyone. It can be taking courses to expand your business knowledge, taking time off for self-care, or just squeezing a new hobby into your schedule. No matter what it looks like to you, the goal is the same: for you to learn, grow, and apply your newfound knowledge, skills, and perspective to all facets of your life.

The CoLab founders Megan Marsh and Andress Munar know the value of personal development. In a way, it’s the foundation of their business partnership. They met as participants of a mastermind program, a peer-to-peer mentoring group where members help one another solve problems using input and advice from the group. Through that connection, their friendship turned into a business partnership when they founded Keystone Alliance Mortgage in 2016. Along the way, Megan and Andres have helped each other grow and apply that growth to their business.

“You can’t develop yourself alone,” Andres says. “You need other people and other resources to grow and become a better business owner and leader.”

Starting a journey of personal development doesn’t require packing your schedule with classes, programs, and lectures on topics that seem helpful. It starts with you and your interests. Do you want to be a more effective communicator? Are you a conflict-avoidant person looking for tools to have more direct discussions? Are you interested in expanding your knowledge of the products you offer? Narrowing down how you want to grow will make taking the next steps of your development journey more manageable.

Importance of Development

So why start a journey of personal development? Entrepreneurs often identify themselves as creative, curious, and driven people. They focus on productivity and problem-solving. They crave success. Taking the opportunity to learn new skills and expand your knowledge can satisfy that innate need to achieve and be successful. However, between the demands of business and home, personal development can get lost in the shuffle.

Finding time for personal development can be challenging for entrepreneurs of any level, but those who do prioritize it swear by its benefits. It pushes them out of their comfort zone and encourages them to adapt and learn. In turn, these lessons can be applied to their business and help grow it successfully.

“It’s worth asking how can you open yourself up to learning new things, failing and trying, and meeting new people in a way that reveals what you were meant to be doing,” Megan says. “There will always be someone with more knowledge and expertise than you that you can learn from. You can never stop learning.”

Despite studies estimating the number of entrepreneurs around the world at more than 580 million, it can be a lonely career path. The drive to succeed and the amount of responsibility that running a business requires means sacrificing amounts of time, money, and energy that non-entrepreneurs may see as unnecessary and unhealthy. Personal development opportunities such as coaching and classes give small business owners a chance to connect with others in similar circumstances and create a community of support for themselves. Through collaboration and connection, an entrepreneur’s opportunities to learn are endless.

Develop Your Way

Entrepreneurs who value personal development make it a part of their everyday lives. Personal development can take many forms:

  • Read books. Taking the time to read a book is a low-pressure form of personal development that can be added to any schedule. The act of reading has been shown to improve concentration, expand vocabulary, and enhance creativity. Is there a facet of your business you’d like to understand better? Pick up a book and read on. More interested in self-improvement? There are thousands of books written by both entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs that can help you develop as a person.
  • Take a class. Type “entrepreneurship classes” into your internet browser search bar and thousands of options will pop up at your fingertips. Taking classes can be helpful in expanding your current business knowledge, learning a new technological skill, or training you how to be a more confident leader. Online classes offer flexible options for entrepreneurs with busy schedules.
  • Focus on you. Don’t forget, you are your business’ most valuable tool. It’s important for you to take time to relax and recharge. Make taking time for yourself a priority when it comes to your schedule. Setting aside time for social outings, hobbies, and other interests can help you unwind, which in turn can make it easier to focus on days at work. Having a work-life balance also will allow you to focus on your health, which should be one of your main priorities.

No matter how you choose to develop yourself, setting goals can help get you started on your journey and keep you going. At its heart, personal development is inspiring change and with change comes growth. Creating a personal development plan is a simple way to get started. Your plan can take any format you wish. Experts recommend that it contain the following sections:

  • Define your goals. What do you want to accomplish or learn through this process?
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Make a list and focus on whether you’d like to improve your weak areas or bolster your strong ones.
  • Focus on what you want to learn. Picking one topic or skill to concentrate on will make learning more manageable in addition to the demands of your business.
  • Set a deadline. Determine a feasible timeline for completing your goal and stick to it. Hold yourself accountable by scheduling time for your learning opportunity each week.
  • Take action. Write down how you will approach meeting your goal, including tasks and their time commitment.
  • Evaluate your progress. Keep track of your accomplishments when it comes to your chosen area of learning and uses them to keep pushing toward reaching your goal.

Remember to update your plan with every new learning pursuit so you can keep growing and evolving.

Growth through Connection

One of the most effective methods of learning is collaborating with other people. Take for example the mastermind class where Megan and Andress met. Activities of any kind that bring people together allowing them to exchange ideas, experiences, and perspectives that have the potential to help each other thrive.

“You can’t develop yourself alone,” Andress says. “You need people to engage with and resources created by other people to help you grow.”

There are opportunities all around you to connect with others and share your experiences. The CoLab (@TheColabLife) and Serving Up Success groups on Facebook are two platforms where you can connect with others and share experiences and advice that will help you on your journey of personal development. As mentioned, there are many online classes and in-person courses you can take. Networking events hosted by local chambers of commerce, business schools, and professional associations also are places where you can connect informally with others and turn those linkages into collaborative relationships that help you grow.

And if you have employees, don’t forget about them. Encourage each of your staff members to pursue personal growth opportunities. Consider it an investment in your business because they will feel valued and their new skills and knowledge may help bolster your operations. You and your team learning together can pave the way for more efficient operations and continued growth.

Personal development isn’t an instant change, but with the right tools and resources, it’s a journey you can begin whenever you’re ready and find success at any level. So get out there and never stop learning. Your business will be better for it.

Ready for more? Check out The CoLab articles on Business GrowthEntrepreneurshipFinancial Freedom, and Work-Life Balance.

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