When I started my first business, I was afraid of spending any money. I quickly discovered however, that there were massive gaps in the skills and knowledge that I required to build a successful business.
For my first year, I kind of hiccuped along making lots of mistakes before finally deciding that I needed to invest in myself AND my business. Making that decision not only helped my business immensely, it was also the foundation of many important business relationships that I would develop.
Personal and business development are one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your business.
Successful people are constantly investing in themselves in a variety of ways, here are some that could work for you.
“Books showed me there were possibilities in life, that there were actually people like me living in a world I could not only aspire to but attain. Reading gave me hope. For me, it was the open door.” Oprah Winfrey
Here is an outline of some of the low cost and free ways you can develop yourself.
Conferences and exhibitions
This can be a great way to not only develop yourself but also network with other people who are taking an active interest in their businesses and themselves.
I try to regularly attend industry conferences both as a speaker and a delegate. Through conferences, I have found new clients, new friendships and learned a lot from both the other delegates and the speakers.
Pick up a book
Reading is such a powerful low-cost way to get expertise that would be very difficult or expensive to get in any other way.
Odds are there is an expert that has published a book on almost any subject that you can think of and these can quickly and easily give you the tools that you need to succeed.
You can see some of my favourite business books here.
Your rolling university
Unfortunately, with two kids and two businesses to run, I don’t always have time to read a book. So, to keep up I have adopted Brian Tracey’s concept of a rolling university.
The idea behind the rolling university is that every time you get in the car you should listen to motivational CD’s or audio books, so I have applied this to other aspects of my life as well including walking the dog and taking a trip into London.
I think of many of the authors that I listen to as mentors as they can open my mind to new ways of thinking and new concepts. Many of my favourites I’ll listen to over and over again.
“I began my studies with eagerness. Before me I saw a new world opening in beauty and light, and I felt within me the capacity to know all things.” Helen Keller
Podcasts are another fantastic way to learn new things as there is so much great free information out there.
Not all podcasts are found via Itunes.
You will frequently find audio files on personal development sites that are really high quality.
YouTube can be an incredible success resource
You tube has become a fantastic resource for free advice and content. Most people think of it as only for fun, but these days it can be used for practical business advice as well as an opportunity to take a comedy break. Using the keyword search will bring up videos from some of your favourite personal development gurus and industry experts. You would be surprised who is using You Tube these days as a method of promoting themselves and their business.
Workshops and Seminars
An obvious one perhaps, but learning in a group environment can often exponentially increase your success. Reading is all well and good, but having an expert on hand to directly ask questions from can accelerate your learning.
Practical learning often requires role plays and focus to really bed itself down as a skill.
In the UK we are really lucky that there are some many low cost and free ways of gaining skills. Many of the Chambers of Commerce offer free courses in business management and planning, The British Library Business and IP Centre as well as other business libraries across the country also offer low-cost courses.
It’s worth signing up to the newsletters of these organisations to find out what is coming up.
Do you have a mentor?
Mentoring is a great way to learn from experts who have been there before. A mentoring programme can be either formal or informal and can be both peer to peer as well as developmental. In the past, I have had some excellent mentors, both paid and free. Now, I work one to one with lots of business owners who have service businesses to help them to build and grow their business.
Many people find that the process of mentoring is as much as a development opportunity for them as being mentored.
Get a coach
A coach can become your greatest asset if you are committed and dedicated to the process. For coaching to succeed it requires time and action from you as the coachee for it to succeed. Quite often it is the things that feel most uncomfortable that are the areas that need to be most worked on.
It is very important that you are able to connect with your coach and their style resonates with you.
You don’t need to be best friends, but their style of communication needs to work for you without causing friction or irritation.
I have had a few different coaching experiences with varying success and have found that to generate results I need someone who really holds me to account rather than letting me get away with not delivering. But the style of coach that works for me, may not be the style of coach that works for you.
If you are considering using a coach, many will offer a free strategy session to assess the fit between you. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something!
Prioritise your own development
Investing in yourself is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself. Learning promotes growth. It helps your brain create new pathways and ways of thinking and can help you find solutions to problems that have been with you for a long time. Continuously learning new things will help you become open to take on things you didn’t think you could do before. So dedicate some time to yourself – you are worth it!