Professional Development: Are You Investing in You?

Professional development is a valuable investment, both personally and professionally. It is an investment in you as a leader, and you as a business owner – the person who makes the decisions that ultimately lead to the success, and unfortunately, sometimes the failure of your business.

Investing in the ongoing opportunity to learn new skills, or refresh old ones, will give you the ability to make better decisions and lead more effectively, which in turn benefits your business and your staff. Should you invest? Absolutely! Here’s why.

Learn something new – As a business owner, you really have to be a Jack(ie) of all trades. Learning new skills will give you the knowledge and ability to do the tasks that are necessary in your business.

Get the rust off – They say if you don’t use it, you lose it. It’s always important to brush up on skills that you may have learned earlier but haven’t used as much in recent years. It is also important to stay up-to-date with current processes; the way something was done when you first learned it may not be the way it is being done now.

Get re-energized – There is nothing more inspi- ring or motivating than getting away from the day-to-day needs of business to do something a little differently. Being in a room with different people discussing and sharing new ideas gives you the opportunity to refresh your mind and re-energize your creative processes.

Keep current – No matter what the industry, it’s important to keep up-to-date with trends and developments that may affect your business. Staying current gives you the knowledge to make more informed strategic decisions and it helps position your business more appropriately for future growth.

A fresh perspective – It is very easy to get stuck in the way you do things, especially when you have no outside influences. By attending training outside of your business, you get to draw on new ideas and perspectives, all of which can encourage creativity and innovation.

Open the door to new opportunities – Professional development may open your eyes to business opportunities that you never considered or even realized existed. And, with the new skills and knowledge you learn, you will be able to appreciate the prospects and to create a plan to take better advantage of them.

Networking – Attending workshops or seminars is just another opportunity to connect with new people and build your network. It is always important to build relationships with fellow business owners, industry experts, government representatives, among others, because you never know how they will help you in the future. It’s also a great way to realize that you are not alone; other business owners often go through the same things and there is lots of support available.

Participating in training opportunities can prove to be priceless for your business. As you improve and advance your knowledge and skills, you grow as a leader and become better equipped to handle the demanding tasks of a business owner.

Create a Professional Development Plan

As with any business decision, try as you may, you just can’t get everything you want – time, money and resources don’t allow it. This is why you create a plan, set goals, and follow a budget. Creating a professional development plan also helps you set priorities that are aligned with your business goals.

Evaluate – Where is your business going this year? What are you focusing on? Your professional development choices should be based on the answers. It is also important to evaluate what types of training you like best, or what fits with your schedule.

Research – Research the opportunities available based on topics you have chosen to focus on, as this will help you when it comes to setting your goals and budgeting.

Set Goals – Decide how many, what time, and how often you want to participate in professional development opportunities. Once you have set goals, start working to achieve them.

Set a budget – Based on your current financial situation, set a budget and stick to it. Also, some learning opportunities are tax deductible, depending on your status as a business owner. Worried about a limited budget? No worries: head to your local bookstore and pick up a paperback written by an expert on your topic of choice. Or search the web to take in free webinars in your field.

One last thing, your professional development plan is up to you, so include what works best for you. And remember, it’s never final. Never stop learning because professional development will make you a better business owner.

Are you up for a challenge?

We challenge you to take part in a professional development opportunity at least once a month. NLOWE offers professional development opportunities designed with the business owner in mind: low cost, flexible timeframes, and with tools that can be put into use right away. For more information about the opportunities we offer, visit www.nlowe.org/events.

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