When we think about entrepreneurship, we think of an enterprising individual with dreams of making a new company highly successful. We imagine being the boss and making our own rules. Sure, it’s about that, and so much more.
Social media is filled with self-made millionaires who took a simple idea and made it brilliantly successful, and they are willing to show you how to do it, too. Their advice works for some (but certainly not all), and most of these entrepreneurs seem to have done it largely on their own. It’s a dream come true, for sure, and most of us would love to be successful entrepreneurs as well.
But there’s more to it than that. More than anything, entrepreneurship is an exercise in professional development. It’s a drive to own and create something that changes the world, provides a legacy, or enables a more secure lifestyle. In essence, entrepreneurship is about being better than the person you were yesterday.
PD is the key
Professional development — or PD — is a process of learning in which an individual focuses on building their own portfolio of skills. This can be accomplished through attending conferences, enrolling in courses, or even furthering your education through degrees or certificates. In any case, PD drives growth and success within one’s chosen career.
It’s easy to see why being an entrepreneur can also be viewed as professional development.
One example: Larry the inventor
Let’s take a look at one example of what I’m talking about. Larry is an inventor who has created a mask that smoothes wrinkles and fine lines, automatically applies sunscreen, and can also apply light makeup. Larry’s product is, in short, amazing! His concept could be wildly successful, but he’d like to make sure he has basic business skills to ensure success because he is, in essence, a scientist – not a businessman.
So he enrolls in school to get a business administration degree to understand the operational side of working in a company, and decides to take a concentration in corporate law to understand contracts. Larry is active in online communities and social groups to learn about marketing and sales conferences he can attend, and he makes sure to spend some time laying the groundwork for a successful business.
Larry is engaging in professional development, all in an effort to ensure success. Many small business owners may not know how to draft a business plan or a marketing strategy, but through PD, they often learn.
Noam Wasserman of Harvard Business school did a study of 212 startups and found that less than half of the original founders were in the CEO position after a three-year period. Why? Because often a change in leadership was needed to continue to grow the company. In fact, the growth of a company tends to coincide with the skills of its leadership. Without professional development, scaling a business is not always possible.
A broader skillset can make a difference
It may seem much easier when a company has one employee (the founder) to ignore the importance of PD. But what happens when the business grows, and one person can’t handle everything? A leader needs to think about how to manage human capital through HR and invest properly, or to run marketing, branding, and sales. No matter the industry, these are all important for growth.
Career professionals are used to the idea of PD for promotions, career changes, or personal achievement. Development is typically built into the organizational culture. Some companies provide tuition assistance for continuing education for mid- or senior-level positions requiring higher experience or degrees, as well as programs for additional training. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, tend to ignore these processes in their businesses.
In an ever-changing world, founders and CEOs must evolve to keep up with changes in technology, needs of customers, and evolving business practices. Thinking of your business as a corporate entity — and considering how you’d like to be treated as an employee — may be helpful in setting up your company for success. Consider things like:
- Personal improvement
- Educational/training opportunities
- Growth prospects
- Trajectory of career path
Thinking about this at the start is important. Your employees will thank you for it later. Of course, like our example with Larry, this isn’t all about the future employees of your business. It all starts with you. Your own personal improvement and professional development will increase your chances of success, and also bring about a sense of personal fulfillment.
The role of personal fulfillment
For entrepreneurs, everything is personal: The success of the business reflects the individual’s sense of worth. That’s just the way it works. That’s why it’s important to strike the perfect balance between tangible and intangible benefits when it comes to owning and operating a business. And just as you must think about what sort of employees you would hire to work in your company, as an entrepreneur, you also have to think about what sort of employee you want to be.
Entrepreneurs need an array of tools to help be successful. Sogolytics’s customer experience platform can help drive the actionable insight you need for better decision-making or strategic planning. Reach out today for a quick conversation about how we can help your business succeed.