Are you investing in yourself? As an entrepreneur and business owner, it is vitally important that you take the time to invest in yourself. You are your most valuable asset, and if you aren’t finding ways to improve the life and value of yourself as an asset, then you are simply selling yourself short.
Investing in yourself is a long-term commitment. How long do you want to run your business? 10 years? 20 years? 50? Will your skills and acumen stay cutting edge that long? Are you in a healthy enough physical shape to commit to that kind of longevity? These are serious questions that you need to take into consideration. If you can answer “yes” to both, then congratulations. But how do you plan to stay that way? If you answered “no” to either of them, then how can you get yourself into comfortable enough mental and physical shape to say “yes”?
The key is, you need to learn to invest in yourself. Your mind and body need time, money, and attention in the same way that your business, your products, and your services need investment. You are, and will always be, your most valuable asset. Don’t let that asset depreciate.
The idea of investing in yourself is foreign to many people. They agree with it in thought but they hardly take the initiative to agree with it in person. For most first-time entrepreneurs and startups, they simply cannot look past the idea of investing in themselves personally vs directly into their business as an exchange. They see self-investment as something that takes away from the capacity of their business instead of something that ads to it.
It doesn’t have to be an either or scenario. Investing in yourself is investing in your business, but it is also so much more. Investing in yourself often takes you back to the reasons why you decided to strike out on your own in the first place. What is the point of having the freedom to choose what to do with your time if you never take advantage of it? How are you growing as a person outside of the office? What would an extra day off do for your spirit? What new ideas would you come back with after a week off? What new skills could you bring to the table after attending a conference? These are the questions you need to be asking yourself and these are the investments you need to be considering. Take care of your business by taking care of yourself.
Are You Taking Care of Yourself?
How do you take care of yourself on a daily basis? How about on a weekly basis? Monthly? Yearly?
These don’t need to be grand, extravagant instances of taking care of yourself. They can be something as simple as treating yourself to a diet Coke every Friday. They can be a consistent part of your routine, like going to the gym each morning or reading for 20min each night.
A healthy, satisfactory routine is one of the simplest and most effective ways of taking care of yourself. Are you creating and supporting habits that keep you mentally and physically in your happiest, most-efficient state? If not, what can you alter about your routine to increase efficiency and satisfaction?
You may not realize it immediately, but when you do not take care of yourself you are not taking care of your business as well as you could be. If you are running on 30%, then you are only bringing 30% of your best efforts to the table. By failing to invest in yourself, not only are you failing to invest in your business, but you are actively detracting from its overall potential.
How well do you remember your high school math class? Do you remember the commutative property? It states simply that A+B=B+A or AB=BA. Whichever way you arrange the variables, the end result is the same. On the topic of development, this mathematical principle also stands. If you are investing in yourself, you are investing in your business. As your business’ most valuable asset, the time and energy you put into making yourself the most capable, most qualified, and most enthused person you can be is reciprocated into your business.
So it may seem like taking the time to learn a new language is more for you than it is your business, but think of how you can apply those language skills on behalf of your business. The skills that you develop, the wisdom that you gain, and the mindset that you enter into the day with are what makes the difference between your business succeeding and your business failing. If you are investing in you, you are investing in your business for the long haul. The better the shape that you are in, the more capable you are as a leader of your business.
When was the last time you sent yourself to a conference? What did you learn? How did it help you to grow personally and professionally? Conferences are a great way to develop yourself in a large variety of ways. However, many people don’t see them as a necessary step towards self-investment. Even further, many people see conferences as only a way to grow themselves professionally. While it is true that there are many business conferences out there that can help teach you to market more effectively, to understand a new type of currency, or just to meet other like-minded individuals, there are also many conferences out there geared to help you grow personally, without any over business incentives.
When was the last time you went to a marriage conference? Have you ever been to a conference that teaches you how to communicate more effectively? What about a conference that helped you to grow deeper in your faith and personal beliefs. These might not pour directly into your business, but think about how you could apply those skills, or the benefits you gain from attending those conferences, to your business. How much more confident would you be in your business knowing that your marriage was solid? How could better communication skills help you when pitching your business to others? How could the strength of your convictions boost your confidence in the business world?
When was the last time you learned a new skill? What did you learn? How did you learn it?
The demands of running a business, whatever market you are in, are constantly evolving. The skill set that you acquired in your first five years on the job is vastly different from the skill set that will be required of you for the last five years of your job. A key aspect of investing in yourself is the act of investing the time and effort it takes to learn and master new skills. Going back to the “most valuable asset” metaphor, it is important to make sure that your value does not depreciate. Investing in the time and effort to learn new skills means that you, as an asset, are growing in value. You are learning new things that can help you not only to be a more versatile entrepreneur, but that can make the difference between success and just getting by for your business.
Education needs to be treated like your skillset. Education is a quickly depreciating asset in the technology driven, hustle and bustle world of the 21st Century. The things you learned in college or at your previous jobs lose their value more and more with each passing year. This doesn’t mean that the education you received was worthless, but it does mean that it has become outdated. Industry and technology are incessantly moving forward, there will always be new tools, new strategies, and quite simply newer and better ways of doing things.
The greatest lesson you can learn in education is that you should never cease to be a student. If your commitment to education ends at graduation, your potential for continued success will quickly be in freefall. A commitment to education, whether self-taught or through tradition instructor-student means, will make the difference between the Forbes 500 and Chapter 11 for your business. You are your greatest asset, so why wouldn’t you want to continually add to and improve what you, as an asset, know and are capable of doing?
One of, if not the most, effective way of continuing and sustaining your commitment to education is reading. There is no better way to gain specific, expert given insight on a topic than through the pages of a book. Any topic, any question, any field- there’s a book on it with the answers and information that you seek. All you have to do is take the initiative to seek it out and invest in yourself by investing time into your reading. However, this advice is easier taken for some than it is followed through on.
It’s been estimated that over 25% of adults in the United States haven’t read a book within at least the last year. With a 1 in 4 chance, that could easily describe you. That’s okay, but part of investing in yourself means branching out and adding things to your routine that don’t come easily and don’t automatically excite you. It may be difficult, it may be time consuming, but it is the easiest and one of the most effective ways to learn and grow without having to shell over a fortune. Start by adding a 20min reading break into your daily routine. Get comfortable with it, read only what piques your interest. Use audio books if you need to, just make sure that you are sharpening yourself through the pages made available to you.
R & R
One of the most essential aspects of investing in yourself is often treated as the least essential and most overlooked. Rest and Relaxation are the cornerstone of a satisfied and productive life. If you aren’t taking the time to do what you enjoy or just to sit back and do nothing with no expectations, then what is the point of working for yourself in the first place? R & R helps you to recharge, to destress, and to clear your head.
However, with the near-constant demands of running a small or new business, it can be easy to forget to take time for yourself. You are a valuable asset to your business, but you are not your business. Make sure that you, as an individual, are receiving as much care and attention as you give to your business. If you are constantly tired, easily frustrated, and personally drained, you are of little to no use for your business, your co-workers, or your employee. Make sure that you are making yourself an investment priority. Clear your mind, chill out for a minute, and don’t forget to take time for yourself.