In early 2016, I took the leap into entrepreneurship. I dove in with so much excitement. Where else can you spend 75% of your working time in yoga pants? Creating my own schedule was fantastic - I loved clocking in hours after everyone in my house went to bed until the wee hours of the morning. I even joined a co-working space, where I camped out two days a week to be surrounded by other entrepreneurs doing some amazing things
But moving from the corporate environment has had some unexpected challenges. There's the obvious - there is a lot more hustle involved. I am a company of one, so I’m constantly faced with wearing many hats and outsourcing things that I can’t handle myself. But the biggest challenged with entrepreneurship is there was no longer external accountability with my personal development.
In my former organization, I was expected to produce a Personal Improvement Plan every year, which outlined how I would grow and develop. As a talent management professional, I thought, surely I will keep motivated to stay with my development. But, after 8 months into my new endeavor, I looked at myself and realized I HAD DONE NOTHING INTENTIONALLY TO GROW.
In June, I spent some time purposefully mapping the last 6 months of the year. I had some very tangible goals for business growth and personal development. I’m happy to report that nearly at the end of my planning cycle, I’m back on track with my development goals. But it led me to wonder - if I am not doing this as a professional that focuses on this, WHAT ARE OTHERS DOING?!
I presented at a local meeting a few weeks back and I asked a question about who had read a book (Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit if you must know). Only one person raised their hand. After the session, I asked a few people and was told “ Jessica, no one reads anymore. Who has time for it?!”. I was shocked. Development is KEY to success.
Here’s the big WHY:
Being an entrepreneur you business is only as “good” as you are. if you a stagnant, your business will be too. It doesn’t matter how large your team is orhow many processes you have, as an “entrepreneur”, your business ethos is determined by you. So without intentional development, you risk slowing your growth, the quality of your products, and even the future of your business.
How to Gain Development Momentum as a Entrepreneur
- Schedule it - As an entrepreneur, your schedule is sacred. There are only so many hours of the day, and many of them are taken up with client calls, meetings, and administrative tasks. To prioritize your development, you need to get time on your schedule. For me, the last hour of my day is usually devoted to self development. I listen to podcasts, read, write, and work on my vision as my last tasks of the day. It is as protected as my morning routine. I also plan to attend seminars and webcasts on a regularly basis, and get them on my schedule early. Making development time part of your schedule ensures that it gets done.
- Build accountability around it - Do you have other entrepreneurs that are in a similar development place? Be vocal about your development goals with those who will check in on your progress. This is a great place to get a sponsor or mentor involved with your development plans for the year.
- Plug in to local resources - Your local college or networking organization is a great place to start. In the Murfreesboro area, I’m launching a book club for busy professionals to meet in person monthly and have weekly touch points through online chats. No matter where you live, there are local opportunities to build you skills through social events, professional organizations, or institutions of higher learning.
- Incentivize it - Attach some sort of reward with achieving your development goal. Corporate training often is motivating because people gain status of networking opportunities with attendance. What is your motivation? Do you like meeting new people? Make sure to tap into opportunities where you can be social. Do you find value in certifications? Stretch yourself and get the certification that requires regular continuing education.
Development is an important part of everyone’s journey. Remember, it is easily forgotten in the hustle of everyday tasks, but your development is key to your business’s long term success.
Jessica Prater is the Chief Everything Officer of J. Prater Consulting based out of the Nashville area. Prior to starting her business, Jessica held multiple roles at Bridgestone Americas, including Training Specialist III, serving as an advisor to 16 manufacturing locations in North America. She holds a Master of Science in Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University and has over 9 years of training and human resources experience. When she’s not working, Jessica enjoys baking, yoga and spending time at her Tennessee home with her husband and young son.
Want to learn more about Jessica? Visit https://www.jpraterconsulting.com