It is essential that business owners can learn and develop over time. If a business owner’s goal is to achieve more than they have achieved in the past, then, by definition, they must do things they have not done before to achieve those goals. This means they need to learn new skills or behaviours.
Assuming their business is intended to grow and develop, as it must do to survive, then the business owner’s role will naturally change over time. This is because, as the business grows, so too does the role of leading the business. For example, the work, skills, behaviours and habits required to run a $100,000 business are not the same as those required to run a $1 million, $10 million, or $100 million business, and leading one person is not the same as leading a team of 10 people or more. Therefore, as the business grows, the role of leadership grows with it, forcing business owners to develop.
Beyond actual business growth, the leadership role in the business can also change. Many business owners start off as self-employed and conduct all business activity by themselves, albeit at a basic level. As they recruit some employees and the business earns more money, the business owner must adapt to become good at managing people and financials. Likewise, as the business systems get more numerous, the owner has to evolve from being a manager of people and finances to a manager of systems and processes.
Eventually, the business grows to a point where the business owner must learn to manage people who manage systems and processes, becoming a genuine CEO. Then at some stage, the owner may wish to step back from the business and hand over the CEO title to someone else. It is at this point where the owner must become skilled at managing long-term strategy and the overall valuation of the company. Each of these stages require a different skillset and present new areas to master, so a business owner must be flexible and adaptive to learn new skills as their role changes.
It is essential for business owners to learn and grow if the business is to grow and develop, because a business will never progress past the level of the owner. If the owner stays at the same point of development, the business will stay roughly the same. In other words, the bottleneck is at the top of the bottle.
If any business owner is to master the process of learning and development, they must have a growth mindset. At its heart, this is simply a belief that a person’s basic abilities are not fixed and can change and grow over time. Individuals that possess this mindset do not believe they were born with a certain intelligence or skillset, but rather understand that they have the ability to develop and believe that they can. For example, an individual can admit that, while they have never had experience in either sales or finance, they have the ability to learn the skills necessary to become an expert. Without a growth mindset, business owners can never develop a real and lasting habit around learning.
Once business owners believe they can develop and grow, they must determine the best way to approach learning. On the one hand, business owners can learn through trial and error, however this can be a slow journey and, at times, costly and painful. Business owners generally learn better by getting intentional about their development, actively considering what they need to learn at a specific stage, and determining the best available method to learn it.
There are many different ways to learn such as accessing books, webinars, and podcasts. However, in the end, the quickest and most effective way is generally seeking assistance from someone who already knows the knowledge or skills the owner requires and is capable of passing this knowledge on.
It is also important that this individual can comment objectively from an outside perspective and have no agenda. While a business owner can turn to their staff, customers, partners or friends for advice, all of these people will have an agenda whether they realise it or not. This is where a business coach can be invaluable; they’re completely neutral and have the requisite skills and knowledge and can pass them on without any agenda other than the success of the business. This is the fastest and most effective way to learn.
With a growth mindset, business owners can set themselves up to learn all the skills they could possibly need to turn their small business into a massive enterprise, if that’s what they want. And, with the right team in place, including a knowledgeable and objective business coach, they can apply these skills to grow their business to its full potential.
For more information on how business owners can build a growth mindset, they can read Andrew Laurie’s book, Thirty Essentials: Sustainable Success.