I was recently listening to Melyssa Griffin's "Pursuit with Passion" podcast (a favorite of mine) and one of the points of the episode really resonated with me. Like, nod your head and yell YES! level of resonating. Melyssa was interviewing Emily Thompson (another boss lady I admire) and they landed on the topic of how starting a business is just about the best personal growth tool you can have and I'm pretty sure truer words have never been spoken. BTW, you can catch the episode I'm talking about here.
As a first-time business owner, I can tell you the last almost 3 years have been a whirlwind. To be honest, LIFE has just been a whirlwind the last 3 years. I've had a lot of big personal changes (as has Mallory) and while I don't want to say all were a result from starting our business, the truth is a lotttt of them stemmed from it because of one compound word... self-development. I don't have to tell you that starting (and continuing to run) a business is hard freaking work and when you branch out on your own, suddenly you're the focal point of your business. And with that focus comes a wholeeee lot of lessons learned along the way. So what are a few that attribute to personal development? I'm laying down my cards below.
You'll Learn Your Strengths and Weaknesses Real Fast
Prior to starting my own business, I thought I had a good handle on what my strengths and weaknesses were. Then I started a business and those became reallyyy clear. Usually, when you're starting out in your business you don't have a team of 3, 5 or even 10 people to back you up on daily tasks. Maybe a little down the road, but often when you're getting started, you are the focal point of your business. Lucky for me, I have the BEST biz partner ever, and we pride ourselves on playing up each of our strengths, but even so, it was just the two of us and it's something very different when you drop all of the curtains and you're the one calling all of the shots.
Making that initial jump is scary, but it can get even scarier when you realize, "oh hey, this part of business is definitely not my forte." And it won't be the only time you'll feel that way. I break down being a successful business owner into 3 parts...
Talent and skills -- you're going to need to know what you're doing to sign business/sell products.
Dash of luck -- There is certainly some luck to being successful and getting the formula for your business just right.
Problem-solving skills -- If you're going to outlast the rest, your problem-solving skills need to be top of the line.
That third one is a biggie! Discovering your strengths and weaknesses is one thing, but what you do with that info is another. And that is why this personal development work is so important. Amplifying your strengths and sorting our your weaknesses will be the key to keeping up.
Suddenly Your Self-Awareness is on FIRE
On top of sorting out what you're good at or not as good at, you may suddenly find yourself way more in tune with your personal tendencies. I don't think I've ever paid so close of attention to things I say, the way I do things and why. I think a lot of this goes back to becoming a focal point in your business, but sometimes it can seem like you're under a microscope.
More than noticing different things about my work style and personality, I've become somewhat obsessed with why I do those things, where those tendencies stem from and how to continue to better and improve myself. Because like realizing your strengths and weaknesses, it's all about what you do with that information. See a pattern here?
As a business owner, you are always in "do" mode. Planning and talking about things are great, but it's the doing part that we thrive on and same goes with this topic. I enjoyed self-help books prior to starting a business, but the number of podcasts, blogs, and other things I have spent consuming since has multiplied exponentially. Because my focus has shifted into always trying to optimize and do things better and offer better services and products in our business, so has my drive to (hopefully) better myself along the way too.
If You Didn't Have your Priorities in Check Before, You Will Now
This one really follows the two topics above. When you start a business you will really be tested on your priorities and goals. Sometimes you'll find what you think are your priorities vs what you actually make time for can be very different. It's not always a conscious decision either. Sometimes you don't even realize how far apart your reality really is.
I'm not going to lie, this one has been a TOUGH one for me personally. I was faced with some really harsh realities of what I was telling myself I wanted vs what I actually wanted for quite a bit. And through all of the personal development, our business forced me to go through, it all kind of exploded in my face last year. I got to a point where I realized what I really wanted in my next chapter of life and I couldn't just push it away any longer. So one big cross-country move, a breakup, and a whole lot of goodbyes later... here I am. Was it easy? Heck no! It's still not, but growth is usually uncomfortable. Will sorting our your priorities and goals be as dramatic? I sure hope not, but this is one example of how self-development can affect all parts of your life.
I knew starting a business was going to be tough for many reasons, but the personal development angle of things definitely took me by surprise. So no matter where you are on your journey, buckle up because sometimes it can be a rideeee. Can you relate? Has being a business owner pushed you to work on your personal development as well? I'd love to hear from you on social media or in the comments.