Many things are needed for a small business to grow, but one of the key elements for business growth is the ongoing growth of its owner. As a small business owner so much of your business reflects who you are. If you stop growing personally it’s likely that your business will struggle to grow as well.
Few people have a plan for their personal growth. It’s as if people believe that growth will just automatically happen, and that’s simply not the case. Small business owners can quickly fall into the trap of being so busy running their business they can begin to neglect their own personal growth. When that happens our businesses will become as stagnant as we’ve become. Any time you feel that your business has become stuck begin by looking inward. It may be that your lack of personal growth has hindered your business from moving forward.
I have committed myself to being a life-long learner. Maybe it’s because I realized early on I had a lot to learn! Although I’ve pursued a formal education differently than many people I’ve managed to earn three degrees while working full-time jobs and serving as a bivocational minister. I received my bachelor’s degree when I was 46 years old, a master’s at 58 and my doctorate when I was 61. I didn’t pursue any of these degrees because I needed them to advance in my career. I was well into my careers when I enrolled in these programs. I did it for my own personal growth.
In addition to the formal education I read a lot. It’s reported that 42 percent of college graduates will not read another book after the graduate. I find that incredible. My goal is to read a book a week, and most years I will read between 40-55 books. It also makes a difference in what you read. I read virtually no fiction. Most of my reading is in the areas of leadership, religion and ministry, and books that address various aspects of personal growth. Studies have found that 85 percent of successful people read at least two books per month related to their careers or for self-improvement. Charles “Tremendous” Jones was correct when he said that “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
I’m a big believer in Automobile University. I spend a lot of time driving. Rather than listening to the radio I prefer to listen to something that will be informative and helpful. For years as I was driving to classes or to work I kept cassettes in the car by speakers such as Zig Ziglar, John Maxwell, and other motivational and business speakers. Today I download podcasts from several people to listen to while driving.
Seminars and conferences are also a great way to learn and gain new information and techniques you can use in your business and personal life. It’s also a great way to meet new people in your field. Sometimes you can learn as much from them as you do from the presenters.
I used to receive several magazines and journals, but I’ve eliminated all of them now in favor of reading blogs. Each day I scan 40-50 blogs in my blogroll looking for helpful information and ideas. Some of the best articles I post to my Twitter account to share with the people who follow me there. If you want to follow me on Twitter you’ll find me @DennisBickers.
The key is to commit to life-long learning and then look for the tools that will work best for you to achieve that. What works for me might not be a good fit for you, so experiment and find what does work.