Over the years, both through my non-profit fundraising work and as the owner of my own company, I’ve met many successful business owners. In working with these people, I’ve found that the most prolific entrepreneurs all embrace the same foundational strategies for success: they rely on others, but they know that their very best resources lie within themselves.
And that’s something from which all of us can learn: Each one of us is our own best investment. Devoting time, energy, and resources to bettering ourselves is the most effective way to reach our full potential and ensure success for the future.
But like any investment, developing yourself involves regular attention, time and patience, and a little bit of risk. Here are three strategies for growing that personal, prized asset.
1. Never Stop Learning
In order to be (and stay) competitive in your industry, you need to develop expertise. You need to enhance and expand your knowledge base, and you need to update it regularly. Armed with that knowledge, you can show your stakeholders—your investors, your board, or your clients—that they’re getting the best.
So, on an ongoing basis, take an honest look at your skill set and ensure that it reflects the latest trends and developments in your field. Read a lot. Make a regular effort to scan blogs and news articles, attend lectures and seminars, enroll in online or local classes, and find training opportunities in your market.
Yes, this demands an investment of time and resources, but the payoff will come in the form of your new, competitive skills.
2. Nurture Your Relationships
Anyone who runs his or her own business knows that good relationships can mean the difference between success and failure. Surrounding yourself with people who are smart, capable, connected, and interested in helping others gives you access to a wide range of resources—plus, the opportunity to learn from those who've "been there."
Joining professional groups and being active on social media platforms, including Twitter and LinkedIn, are easy ways to start. Comment on the blogs of people you respect—they will notice. You can also create a “Mastermind Group,” a small group of like-minded professionals that meets regularly to share expertise, discuss challenges, and hold each other accountable to goals.
3. Take Risks
Very few successful entrepreneurs got to where they are by playing it safe. So, whether you plan to start your own business or not, consider developing the frame of mind of a risk-taker.
I know it’s not always easy. I’m a fairly conservative person, but ultimately I realized that unless I quit my day job and focused entirely on my freelance writing business, it was never going to take off.
It was a scary decision to walk away from a secure income, an enjoyable job, and a strong reputation in my field. It took a lot of strength to take the leap, but it was worth it to pursue a career that I truly love.
The greatest opportunities involve some measure of risk. And yes, you need to prepare yourself for that course. But, you also need to believe in yourself. You need to know that you have the strength to weather potential failures. And then, ultimately, you just need to go for it.
What strategies have you used to grow your best investment—yourself? Share them below!
Photo courtesy of SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations.