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Is personal development a must for running a business?

More and more people are seeking change in their lives and have begun considering starting up a business. They’re looking for something meaningful to work towards in their lives. Does this hold true for you?

At nyuko, we’re not life coaches—we’re business coaches. As such, we consider two distinct criteria: on one hand the human being behind the project, but also the business project itself. This article introduces a new series dedicated to the role of personal development in entrepreneurship coaching: important AND structured.

If you consider personal development as a waste of time...

Your time is precious, we know. Have you considered, however, that working on yourself through self-reflection can potentially save you time in the long run? I would suggest that you think about this.

Admittedly, there are many emerging methodologies in personal development, and it’s understandable that you might be wary of them. But still, don’t forget that the best entrepreneurs rarely adopt a rigid mindset! Indeed, it’s important to keep feeding your curiosity. Start by sorting out what you need to keep…

If you don't see the connection between introspection and entrepreneurship

If this subject provokes a strong reaction in you, treat that as a warning... If you’re highly reluctant to the idea of taking a personality test, ask yourself why! This could be the result of a real need for growth and self-improvement, which you may (more or less consciously) have been ignoring until now.

What if you were afraid? Yes, "afraid" of discovering that the image you have of yourself doesn’t match up with the results of a personality test? The fear of being judged by others can be a very interesting indication of your personality! As a business owner, you’ll have a lot to gain being able to quickly align your ideas with the reality of the market and possibly working on your pitch to gain more self-confidence and presence.

Even if you’re already "into" personal development...

In this case, my advice is to stay grounded in reality. The person behind the project is obviously a crucial element. That said, working on yourself can and should never replace the practical aspects of building a concrete and profitable project! Each entrepreneur needs to find her or his own subtle balance, business plan, market study, financial plan, legal and financial aspects, communication strategy, definition of SMART objectives, operational management... All these down-to-Earth elements are essential! In short, good entrepreneurs are able to combine a lot of soft and hard skills.

If you have a strong interest in soft skills and fundamental questions about the human component of your business project, don't hesitate to quickly let any experts who are guiding you know. Before working on the "business" and "skills" aspects, it is an excellent way to make sure that you’re cut out for your chosen project.

Finally, if you feel that you need specific support for your well-being and personal balance, don’t hesitate to approach a psychologist or life coach parallel to your work with your entrepreneurial coach.

The top three benefits of running a business

Entrepreneurship offers many perks, but I’ll only review a few of them here. You’ll see that every coin has a flip side, and at the end of the day, being the captain of your own ship requires nerves of steel! All the more reason to understand the link between your business project and self-awareness…

  • Benefit number one: freedom. Since business owners work for themselves, they’re their own boss! Say goodbye to quarterly check-ins with your supervisor: you only have yourself to report to. You’ll also benefit from greater flexibility when it comes to managing your working hours. But be careful! This also means you’ll need to have a great deal of autonomy. This benefit is offset by your clients’ demands. Even if you’re the boss, you need to keep your clients happy. (After all, the customer’s always right, right?). So, where do you stand on autonomy? Think about professional situations you’ve experienced where you’ve demonstrated autonomy and write them down. Note how you handled these situations. This can serve as a guide for your future role as a boss.
  • Benefit number two: the total absence of routine. An entrepreneur must know how to do (almost) everything from researching ideas and product/service development to marketing and accounting. Your days will be full and varied. This requires regular and rigorous self-discipline. You can make your daily life as an entrepreneur easier thanks to different tools we’ve listed in.
  • Benefit number three: the desire for challenge. Business owners have the ability to stimulate the economy and create jobs. For this reason, they generally have an affinity for adventure and a certain amount of risk - the desire to prove and surpass themselves. To really enjoy this benefit, you might need to increase your risk tolerance. Find inspiration from other business leaders here!

Top three disadvantages of running a business

As exciting as it can be, with the great responsibility of being an entrepreneur comes a multitude of concerns and risks. This brings constant pressure that you should be aware of straight from the start.

  • Disadvantage number one: more work. Successfully running a business requires a lot of time and effort. A little advice that you’re probably already familiar with if you’re a fan of Meet an Entrepreneur: everything will take longer than you expect!
  • Disadvantage number two: instability. Being an entrepreneur means accepting a professional life that can be unstable and offer variable income. Are you ready to take that on?
  • Disadvantage number three: pressure. Without a fixed salary, you will have to accept some pressure. To plan ahead, ask yourself the following questions: Will you be able to pay your rent at the end of the month? What happens if you lose your biggest client? If you have to shut down, even if only temporarily, how will you pay your bills? How will you handle your employees, if you have any?

Top four traits of successful business owners

Launching and managing one's own business requires four indispensable traits:

  • Willpower: Cultivate your dynamism. Stay ambitious and carry through with your projects.
  • Creativity: Finding innovative ideas allows you to stand out and constantly reinvent yourself.
  • Rigor: To succeed in your business you need to be structured and work on your organisational skills.
  • Humility: The most successful entrepreneurs are able to constantly question themselves, take a step back, accept criticism, and run with it.

How do you even talk about such traits if you don't start off by truly knowing yourself? Begin with identifying which of them are your greatest strengths and think about how to develop the others.

Is introspection necessary, or secondary to running a business?

Clearly, we all have a greater or lesser appetite for soft skills and self-improvement.

Some things can only be learned through experience. For example, you can read as many books as you want about the loneliness of the entrepreneur, but until you experience it yourself, you’ll never truly understand what it means... The same goes for the mental load that your business project generates day after day.

However, there’s an ocean of things you can learn before you set out! What’s certain is that having good knowledge of yourself will be beneficial for your business project.

I strongly recommend that you take this step if you want to have a sustainable and fulfilling activity. If you’re not committed to all the time and energy you’ll be spending on your business, you’re going to either hit a wall, burn out, or encounter difficulties in your personal and/or family relationships.

Knowing, accepting, and appreciating yourself for who you are doesn't happen on its own. It takes courage, energy, and time. It requires never-ending effort. After all, doesn’t the same apply to running a business?

Where to start?

This article proposes a competency test to assess your personal resources such as know-how, attitudes, and interpersonal skills. Created by the French Chambers of Commerce and Industry, this tool is an excellent starting point for any new business owner! You’ll know which assets to capitalize on and which weaknesses to work on to successfully carry out your own business project.

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