The beauty of becoming a business owner is the freedom it entails. The freedom to make your dreams come true. You can create something that is uniquely yours and be successful if you are willing to put in the work. As a business owner, your career progression and development are now in your hands. Being small business owners, entrepreneurs have the unique opportunity to pave their career paths and make decisions about their professional development. Small business owners need to understand the implications of their career paths in order to create long-term success in this role.
For most business owners, professional growth and development are an afterthought or an accidental byproduct of their company’s expansion. Entrepreneurs must consider how small-business ownership can help or hinder their career progression and plan accordingly with clear goals and objectives. For example, business owners tend to learn many business skills through experience and situations that they encounter during the execution of their day-to-day operations. Business owners also struggle with finding focused time to go deeper into the concepts and examples they come across because they are inundated with the urgency of day-to-day operations. Business owners are so busy working in their business that finding time is difficult to work on their business and on themselves. Time-blocking time in their weeks or months allows business owners to go deeper into an industry trend topic that would help them gain additional competitive advantages.
To ensure sustainable growth over time, small business owners must be proponents of staying up-to-date on industry trends while also tending to the needs of their customers, employees, partners, and vendors so they can reach success faster. With a better understanding of career progression and development as small business owners, entrepreneurs can more confidently identify the steps needed to reach both short-term and long-term goals. In this blog post, we discuss the typical career development phases and their importance to a business owner as they grow alongside their businesses.
Developing your specific niche skills in your industry for your product or service delivery. Most business owners open up shop because of an incredibly specific skill or product that they have refined, possibly for years. They have continued to stay competitive and ensure success as they improve throughout their careers, before and during business ownership. Business owners tend not to have issues continuing their progress and improvement in this area because it’s necessary to stay competitive. If a company wants to be successful, its business owners know they must continually branch out and improve. This is why so many entrepreneurs look to conferences and other opportunities to educate themselves on new trends or research in the industry.
It's essential for business owners to stay informed and knowledgeable through their respective career journeys. An example of this is with owners of marketing agencies that continue attending conferences and broadening their skill set to stay competitive. The more knowledge these owners acquire about trends and research, the better equipped they are to achieve success for their agency.
Developing your understanding of business strategies and execution. This is where business owners tend to have their initial pain points in developing their careers and expanding their businesses (usually when they start to hit the $200,000/year to $500,000/year in revenue). While their product or services are exceptional and/or executed well, business owners are likely just beginning to learn about and test out business practices - including effective and clear marketing, running operations/fulfillment, etc. According to various sources, approximately only 9% of business owners have a business degree, while 26% of business owners have a college degree. This means business owners have had to learn business strategies from a non-formal setting, possibly in their own businesses.
As a business owner, it's vital to understand the different strategies and processes that are key to running a profitable enterprise. Developing an understanding of business strategies and execution is essential for any business owner who wants to remain competitive in their industry. Some areas to focus on include the following:
-long-term business planning -operationalizing a business plan into an implementation plan -creating clear communication to stand out from the noise -digital marketing techniques -sales and business development strategies and systems -scaling your operations and fulfillment -profit and loss reviews, analysis, and adjustments
Most business owners develop these skills through self-study, trial and error, incubators and accelerators, and/or semi-formal courses. Regardless of the medium, this phase of a business owner’s career development tends to correlate directly with the company’s financial success.
Developing your leadership and mentorship skills. Leadership and mentorship skills are easily overlooked by a business owner because not only are these soft skills, but they also require a high level of self-awareness and a desire to help others improve and learn. More often than not, this stops solopreneurs from expanding their operations and team. It’s hard to manage and lead yourself. It’s harder to lead clients, and even harder to lead team members.
Growth as a business typically entails hiring and bringing on additional help. This means that you must transfer some of the technical and client management skills you’ve learned and have been executing up until this point now must be transferred to another team member in your organization. Some lucky business owners hire already-trained, skilled, and driven people. However, new hires need mentorship and leadership to thrive in this new environment. Knowing how to lead and mentor others is critical to making a small business succeed. Executives who understand the value of good leadership skills can create an environment that both encourages employees and helps their small business reach its goals.
As your business and your team grow, you are called to move from the executor in your business to the empowerer of others to execute. As the empowerer of team members, this entails learning new concepts and practicing unfamiliar techniques to communicate, motivate, and collaborate to reach the next level. Every single business owner and CEO I have met has unanimously noted that leading and mentoring people is the hardest part of the job. So, if you struggle in this specific portion of running your business, remember that it is all part of your own career progression and development as a business owner.