Personal development

How can I become a better

business owner and leader?

leadership personal development business

Leadership: Business change follows personal development

Personal development and leadership growth are integral to developing your business. The two always go hand in hand. It’s the reason I refer to myself as a business-life coach, rather than a business coach. 

Most business owners, in the deepest dark reaches of their mind, are afraid they’re not quite cutting it as entrepreneurs. Oftentimes, we start our businesses on the back of a profession, a trade or a skill we have learnt (plumber, architect, accountant, software developer, designer, mechanic, chef, retail manager) and we feel confident in that specific skill.

Starting a new business is an enormous buzz. However, once we get stuck in, we suddenly realise it takes a lot more than being a great plumber to build a great plumbing business.

Where’s the toilet paper?

Few business owners have studied to fulfil that role, and even those who have attained an MBA or similar qualification find they’re not prepared for the realities of life as a small business owner.

Suddenly everything is down to you: the big decisions about whether to bid for that contract, hire that expensive employee or lease that new 

office as well as the small decisions, like which type of toilet paper to buy. To top it off, your people look to you to hold the vision, have the answers and be the leader.

Three pieces of good news about your leadership

It can be a frightening place to stand, but there are three pieces of refreshing news about leadership and personal development I must share:

  1. You’ve got this far and you’re still standing, so you must be doing something right.
  2. Your people really want you to be the leader, and they’re ready to forgive you for just about any mistake you’re going to make along the way.
  3. Leadership is something you can learn, practice and get better at.

What is leadership?

Leadership starts with this statement (more in this article too):

Your business is what it is today, because of WHO you ARE today.

That may seem obvious. But what not be so obvious is that if you accept that statement is also means this:

If you want SOMETHING you’ve never had before, you must

be willing to BECOME SOMEONE you’ve never been before.

Systems and knowledge are never enough

Many business coaching companies sell a “system” that will supposedly deliver a business that generates a million dollars of profit every year. Those systems are often well thought through, well presented and well worth looking into, but they rarely work, at least not by themselves.

The reason they don’t work is that change (business change and personal development) is never about systems and knowledge.

Just because we all know the system for losing weight (eat less and exercise more), doesn’t mean we will achieve it (if that’s our goal). Losing weight means becoming the kind of person who commits to a regimen of eating less and exercising more.

Similarly, most of us business owners already know how to change our businesses. However, making that happen means becoming the kind of person who commits to a regimen of developing as a person, manager, communicator, coach… in other words, a leader.

We must become leaders. We must become the kind of people who do what needs to be done to build the kind of businesses that make a million dollars net profit (or substitute whatever figure is relevant for you).

It’s often referred to as the Be, Do, Have model.

Can’t I just flick a switch?

Becoming that kind of business owner who builds that kind of business doesn’t happen overnight. Leadership is not about flicking a switch and suddenly becoming that person.

Personal development, change in other words, is a process of growth. It takes time and commitment. Nobody can know what your adventure is going to look like or what the outcome is going to be. Every business owner has their own journey to make, and every journey is different.

The one thing we can be sure of is this:

Change won’t happen unless you get on the Journey.

Personal development means leaving the harbour

Getting on the journey of personal development means stepping out of your comfort zone and staying there. You must push off from the shore, set a course for the horizon and never return. Why? Because change never happens in the safety of the harbour.

You know this already. Look back over your life to date: it’s all been a journey. Ten years ago, you couldn’t have done what you do today.

Still, sometimes we get stuck in the harbour for a while. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Of course, we need to make sure the ship is seaworthy and safe. We must also learn know how to sail and navigate the ship. The harbour is a great place to do all those things.

The trouble is, often the day-to-day of scrubbing the decks, repairing the sails and polishing the brass work gets in the way of leaving the harbour. And before you know it, the day-to-day is all there is.

For most of us, there comes a moment when the pull of the wide-open ocean becomes irresistible. That’s when it’s time to go. So, when you feel the nudge: hoist the sails, get out onto the ocean, put your gaze on the horizon and don’t look back.

More about the connection between leadership, personal development and business change:

Being in the harbour

Do take a few minutes to watch this gorgeous TED talk by David Whyte on the past, the future and journeys of change.

The two questions you need to answer:

This leads us to two questions:

  1. How do you know you’re ready to get on the journey?
  2. How do you get on that journey?

The first question is the easiest as well as the hardest to answer:

You’re ready when you feel you’re ready.

How do you get on this journey of personal development?:

In answer to the second question: One way to get onto such a journey of discovery is by working with me. I take my clients on inspiring journeys all the time. You could think of me as the captain of the ship: I know how to keep the ship safe, navigate stormy seas, avoid reefs and get back into the harbour at the other end.

And I’d love to come on your next adventure with you.

This is what the adventure looks like with me:

Once you’ve decided that it’s time to push off and get underway, the process I will take you through is this:

  1. We’ll get very clear about the current state of your business and life. What are the strengths of your business? What are your strengths as the business owner? What are the stressors in your life? What areas of your business are falling behind? What leadership skills do you need to develop?
  2. We take several small steps first. You’ll get to dip your toe in the water and feel what it’s like working with me. It’s called the “Five Steps to Discovery Process”, and it’s mostly free.
  3. We’ll get equally clear about what we want the other end of the journey to be. In 6/9/12 months, what do you want your business and life to look like? We’ll develop an enormous set of goals (tangible and intangible) and a detailed picture of your desired future. This will include financial targets and KPIs across all areas of your business and life, including your state of mind, your wellbeing and everything else required to build the business and life you dream about.
  4. We’ll develop a strategic plan for the achievement of the goal with a wide range of monthly milestones.
  5. We’ll shake hands and commit to the journey, get on board, set the compass course for the goal, push off and decide never to come back.

Ultimately, deciding to change and get on the journey is a lot of fun. It may not always appear that way when looking out onto the vastness of the ocean, but it will be the most satisfying decision you’ve taken in a long time… I promise you.

Further reading: