Personal or Professional Development

Personal or Professional Development

In my last post I talked about the Business Owner Blind Spot and argued that personal development had to be an integral part of being a business owner. But the term personal development doesn’t sit well with many business people; to them it sits with the self-help books in Waterstones and WHSmith.

Professional development is easy to justify; it equates to keeping professional skills up to date and even learning new functional skills such as spreadsheets, social media or cash flow analysis.

But; as a business grows the task of the business owner changes from being good at whatever skill inspired her to start-up to that of managing complexity, change and, most challenging of all, people.

This is the area of personal development. It is about the ability to be resilient in the face of the day to day pressures of running a business. It’s about the ability to lead, to find solutions to problems, be flexible in the face of competing demands on time and the list could go on and on.

These are not the skills that come from training to be an accountant or a solicitor or a plumber or a builder. Some people have these qualities naturally and they thrive in the situations that bring these demands to the fore. Others wilt under the pressures and the businesses fail. Businesses rarely fail because the owner is lacking in the functional skills to actually do the job.

The list below, of failure factors, comes from one of many sites on the web that give advice to small business owners, aspiring and established. It is impossible to tell what sector or industry this applies to because it’s not about the functional aspect of the business.

1. No clue about how hard it is to run a business
2. No network
3. Not saving enough money
4. Lack of a niche focus
5. No marketing plan
6. Not managing your brand
7. Not communicating with existing customers
8. Lack of fiscal discipline

Number one on the list? It’s hard to run a business. You have to be resilient, have stamina, enjoy the challenge and above have the competitive will to succeed. These are all issues of personal development as opposed to professional development.

The absence of ability in these areas results in negative emotions and symptoms such as stress, demotivation, anger, frustration and if unrecognised and not dealt with can lead to worse such as depression.

Many people view the idea of personal development as a sign of weakness and therefore never open themselves up to the idea that they can improve their abilities in these non-functional areas of running a business.

Through scientific and pastoral research we know so much about how to build the qualities and abilities that enable us to cope with challenge, stress and pressure that there is really no reason why anyone, who has the will to learn, cannot develop themselves to become more effective in all aspects of running a business.

And there is no excuse nowadays, there are experts in every discipline and area of expertise who are waiting and wanting to help.

Open yourself to the idea of personal development and you increase your chances of building and maintaining your business by a factor of …..? And herein lies the problem it’s difficult to put a figure on it and that makes it an easy subject to dodge.

Don’t fall into that trap. The ROI on personal development is the long term survival of your business and your ability to achieve your dreams and ambitions.

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