As entrepreneurs, we are very passionate about our business and want it to succeed. We spend a little bit more on equipment because it’s faster and more efficient. Your manager has been with you for years and gets a pay raise because a competitor has offered him a lucrative contract. Most of your business decisions pay off because you have made the necessary call to scale the business and watch it flourish. However, your business may not be performing at the optimum level because you forget the most crucial person in your life that has been there since day one. Spoiler Alert: that person is you. Suppose you genuinely want to be successful as a business owner and be a market leader you envisioned when you wrote the first sentence of your business plan. In that case, investing in yourself is imperative. Here are a few ways to do just that.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT NEVER STOPS
Ok, stop booing! Say what you want about Kobe Bryant, but you could never question his work ethic and constant development as a basketball player. He was always working and adding a new aspect to his game because he knows basketball is a craft. As Entrepreneurs, you should be doing the same thing. Now I’m not saying go and do resistance training in a pool…then again (more on that later). You must be learning more about your craft and industry constantly. Take some free online courses that teach the art of negotiation. Read articles and books that talk about the philosophies of those who have done it longer and are more successful than you. Instead of listening to the radio on the way to work, listen to a podcast about your industry. Are you thinking about expanding to a new country? Learn the language of a foreign land (F.Y.I. there are three international business languages. English, Mandarin, and Japanese). Also, going to conferences is the best because you get a 2-for-1 out of it. You learn something, and you get to network. Professional development separates the Mark Cuban’s from the graveyard filled with countless failed entrepreneurship ventures.
DUST OFF THE TREADMILL IN THE GARAGE
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs are people that exercise regularly. It is part of their daily routine. It’s essential for several reasons. For starters, it’s a great way to come up with new ideas. I keep a notepad on the treadmill because when my blood gets pumping, and the wheels in my head start turning, new ideas tend to flow. Also, it puts you in a good mood by giving you a sense of accomplishment for the day. Entrepreneurs thrive on the small victories that lead to the much larger ones. However, the most important reason to exercise as an entrepreneur is to remain in good health. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can find yourself sick more often, which leads to unplanned time away from the business. This cannot be good. I have seen entrepreneurs not take care of their health. Their business suffered tremendously due to sickness and sometimes even death. So squeeze in some time for a workout regularly and watch what you eat. (Practice moderation on those cheesesteaks!)
SAVING FOR RETIREMENT OR AT LEAST A RAINY DAY
This is important for a straightforward reason…piece of mind. Business owners too often live in the moment, and when a crisis hits, they are unprepared for it. Putting away a little bit here and there assures you that when bad things happen (and they will), the blow won’t be so bad. When you left your 9-5, you left the retirement package they had for you as well. All is not lost. You can still save for retirement due to the many options afforded to small business owners. For aggressive people like me, the stock market is where I go to create my retirement portfolio. However, for those not willing to take that roller coaster ride, mutual funds and I.R.A.s can be your path to a healthy and sustainable retirement. You worked hard for your money, so make it work as hard as you do. Don’t just let it sit in a bank account. Nobody has ever become wealthy doing that.
DON’T BE LATE FOR YOUR DAUGHTER’S TEA TIME
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your business is to step away for a while. We often become so ingrained in our business that there is no fresh perspective, and innovation is lost. More importantly, we forget the people that matter, those who sacrificed the most while you built your empire. Reconnecting with them can provide clarity and even spawn new ideas. Your spouse may make a comment that sparks the solution you have been looking for in the business. The family should be the first option, but there can be other ways to get away. Play a round of golf or catch a movie. The point is to hit the reset button once in a while, so you don’t begin to resent the business. Amassing wealth with no time to enjoy it is a complete waste.
WHAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE?
Far too often, entrepreneurs are working “in” the business instead of “on” the business. Sometimes being selfish and taking care of #1 can save your business, family, and even life. Constantly find uniques ways to improve your craft and your knowledge of the industry. Exercise can mean the difference between making goals and missing them entirely. Saving allows you to worry about one less thing in your business because owning a business brings enough stress. Lastly, taking a leave of absence will enable you to look from a rare vantage point, the outside looking in a while appreciating the joys of life. Yes, it would help if you bought that truck to make more deliveries, but your growth matters so much more.