Those of you who have worked in a growing business will know that there’s always something new and unexpected around the corner. And you will have learnt how to roll with the changes, building up a network of contacts, hiring the needed staff as specialists in logistics/ production/ NPD become vital to your survival.
Personal development is frequently overlooked as businesses grow. All hands are on deck sorting out the trading issues and there is little, if any, time left over to consider training options which aren’t related to the front-line of the business.
As a result, your skills get left behind. How you run and interact with a small team in the early stages of business will not scale up effectively to a larger team, with multiple managers and workstreams.
Prioritising training is incredibly hard but it is as important as driving those front-line sales, and failure to invest in yourself or your team can be as costly as losing a key account.
There’s no one-size fits all – it will depend on what your background is in. For instance, if you trained in an HR team or have worked in a structured business environment, you will be familiar with appraisal routines, goals, objectives, how to deliver feedback etc.
But if you’ve not had this background, these areas may all be new in practice, even if you get the theory. Writing your first job spec or conducting an interview can be a minefield if you’ve never done it before and have no one to ask. Let alone what the consequences are if your interview technique doesn’t select a suitable candidate and you make a bad hire.
There’s being able to keep a team engaged and motivated; designing a reward structure for them; being able to plan your business growth and set a strategy for the coming years; being able to create a forecast and make sure you have enough cash to fund your growth; having the confidence to talk to funders/ investors/ buyers/ suppliers about your product and why they should work with you….can any one person actually tick all these boxes?
Firstly: Prioritise your personal development, don’t keep pushing it down the to-do list!
Then figure out what areas you want or need to focus on. Grab a book or three; have a search online for tips and tricks depending on what you’re researching. Talk to colleagues or friends in similar situations. These are all free options, and can help you fine-tune what you want to work on.
Digging deeper, more options include: hiring an expert to set up an area, which can then be run inhouse (or keep the expert on) such as a Learning & Development function for HR. If you’re running the business though, the confidential/ sensitive nature of a lot of your challenges will mean you don’t want to share details in a group session. Instead, you may want a one-to-one coach to discuss issues with and work on your personal skillset. Business coaches can offer detailed advice on situations you are facing at work, helping steer you through the unchartered waters of running your business for the first time.
Recognising that building your abilities as a leader is an integral part of successfully building your business is major step. Now you need to take action and develop them.
Enhance provides business and executive coaching to business leaders. All of our coaches have 5+ years of board level experience in a range of SME businesses and sectors.