“You are your greatest asset.” It’s a saying that I doubt you hear enough. After all, for many in the business world, it’s far more common to think of ourselves as our own worst enemies. But when it comes to evaluating a true return on investment, there is only one asset you can be guaranteed will stick with you for the long haul—YOU! While on the surface, this may sound overly simplistic, the reality is that very few business owners take the time and initiative to invest in their own education, betterment, and marketability. The reason is frustratingly apparent; most business owners are plagued by a seemingly inescapable time loop where, “I don’t have the time,” becomes your response to potential asset building strategies. So how do you beat the paradoxical blues and maximize your greatest investment? I’m channeling the Jackson Five here, but it’s easy as 1,2,3. . .
Prioritization is your best friend. Again, this might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a not-too-common element of common sense. Business owners are notorious for wearing far too many hats, and part of this is bred from necessity. When you’re starting up a business, it just makes sense to pile tasks on to your own plate since there may not be someone available for you to delegate to. But as your business grows, be sure to institute checkpoints where you reevaluate the tasks you’re taking on. Are they giving you an appropriate ROI, or should you be delegating some of your tasks to assistants or different departments? Evaluate yourself early and often to avoid feeling overwhelmed and cornering yourself into an untenable position. By freeing up time otherwise spent on tasks below your pay grade, you don’t just increase the time you can devote to self-improvement, you’re also maximizing billable hours, thus putting dollars and cents in your pocket.
2. Learn from Experience (it doesn’t have to be yours)
While there is no better teacher than the mean streets of life, you really don’t have the time to learn each of life’s grand lessons by yourself! Take a page out of Eleanor Roosevelt’s book and, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” Welcome to that most mysterious educational relationship—mentorship. This is where things get fun and excitingly multifaceted. Try something from the turn of the century, the 19th century, that is—a mastermind group. The brainchild of business guru Napoleon Hill, at its most basic incarnation, the mastermind group is a coalition of business people who share their experience and expertise and they rarely fail to offer a wealth of information. If masterminding doesn’t sound like your thing, try more traditional mentorship by opening up a channel to a businessperson you genuinely admire and wish to learn from. True, it could seem like a long shot, but you’d be surprised by how many at the top are genuinely willing to empower others in their field. Even if you’re crunched for time or resources, hit the books and learn from the autobiographical chronicles of luminaries you respect.
3. A-Cert Yourself
Admittedly, this will be dependent on your field, but certifications are fantastic ways to continue your education, invest in yourself, and generate marketable value. Dentists make some of the most fabulous examples of professionals who are always seeking the next level of certification! As a writer, it seems like every call I make to a dentist includes an update on what new technology they’ve been certified to use or a technique they’ve just added to their repertoire—and this generates meaningful value for their patients and for the rest of their business. However, health care isn’t the only place where certifications or specializations matter. Invest in some research into your target market and assess which untapped needs you could meet through certification. Expanding your skill set directly translates to a potential increase in margin, something we all can appreciate.