Elements of The Entrepreneurial Mindset Series Element #7: Take Personal Growth as Seriously as Business Growth

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 20, Issue No. 17b
October 15, 2022

By Dan Coughlin


woman on computer

There are some traps in running your own business.

One such trap is the trap of “I’m so busy I don’t have time to work on improving myself.”

Here’s how the trap happens.

A person works very hard over a number of years to strengthen their skills and knowledge. Eventually the person starts their own business. And the business takes off. Customers come in and they rave about the quality of the work they are receiving, and more business comes in. Meanwhile, the business owner is getting busier and busier. Years pass by.

Sometimes the business results go down, and so the entrepreneur works even harder to get the business out of the slump. Again, the person says, “I don’t have time to focus on myself. I have to focus on the business and making it successful again.”

Little negative habits that the person has had for years get ignored and they start to increase. By now the business is so successful or trying to regain past glory that other people are not comfortable telling the owner some of the things that he or she does that are very odd and very annoying. And then sometimes those things that have been ignored for decades suddenly become a VERY BIG problem. Sometimes those things cause the owner to be fired from their own company. Sometimes the business is taken down and eliminated.

Why? How did it all go so wrong?

Because the person completely ignored their own personal growth for the total sake of the business growth. And this happens over and over across industries with both big and small companies.

How Can a Person Grow as their Business Grows

Not only do you need a game plan for growing your business, you also need a plan for growing yourself. Here are an array of ways you can stimulate your brain and find ways to grow.

Attend industry conferences.

In your business you may very well know a lot. However, you might be missing important details. Go to conferences in your industry and talk shop. Ask questions and listen. You can always grow in your knowledge of the actual work you do. Listening to peers and exchanging ideas can enrich your perspective on what to do.

Talk with other business owners.

Talk with entrepreneurs outside of your industry. Walt Disney was in the film and tv business. He wanted to extend his entertainment empire. And so he studied carnivals and circuses. He developed ideas that eventually became Disneyland and Walt Disney World. What ideas can you learn from other entrepreneurs that might be able to help your business.

Read books.

To this day I have never found anything even close to the cost efficiency of reading good books. For $20 you can gain valuable insights on strategy, branding, teamwork, leadership, and on and on and on by simply investing 6-10 hours of reading time and writing down 5-6 key ideas you learned from each book. If you just simply read books, underline key ideas, and write down those key ideas in a blank journal where you can keep them all together, you will have powerful ideas that you can connect together.

Listen to podcasts.

There are literally hundreds of podcasts available that you can listen to at your convenience. It’s mind-boggling how much you can learn just by listening. Please get out of the trap of thinking that you are too busy to listen to a podcast for 45 minutes and learn a few insightful ideas.

Meet with a mentor.

Find a mentor even if you have to pay someone whom you can meet with for an hour or so a few times a month. I’ve had mentors my entire adult life going all the way back to when I was 14. I’ve paid some of them and others were people who were willing to spend time with me and offer me their perspectives.

Have meaningful conversations with people you grew up with.

Your friends you grew up with before you started your own business provide you with something incredibly valuable. They remind you of what you had before you had money. What you had back then were your dreams and your values and your morals and your habits. When people get super busy in running their own business, they sometimes forget themselves and the important things in life. Please connect and reconnect and reconnect with friends and family members who were important to you growing up. They can help you to remember your own essence as a person.

Gather feedback from employees, peers, customers, and suppliers.

It’s possible to get so busy and so focused at work that you forget to actually ask people for their insights on what it is like to work with you and for you. Please make this something you do regularly. We can’t see ourselves. Other people can see us. They can be our mirrors. Let them share with you how they see you and what it is actually like to work for you. You need their insights on your attitudes, words, and actions.

Consistently write in a journal.

One more time let me encourage you to buy a blank journal and write in it regularly. If you are willing to put in the effort, you can learn ideas every single day. If you learn just two ideas a day, that’s 700 ideas a year. You will quickly forget what you have learned if you don’t write it down. Just pull out the blank journal and invest 10 minutes a day in writing down your answer to this question, “What did I learn today?” You will never capture it all, but if you write down one or two ideas each day, you will have an unbelievably valuable journal.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at dan@thecoughlincompany.com with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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