Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Entrepreneurs are some of the toughest people I know. They hustle more and work harder, all in pursuit of something they love. While these qualities are admirable, I often find that in the midst of all this drive, we too often forget to invest in other things that matter. Taking the time to truly invest in your business – as well as yourself – can drive significant long term results.
Here are four ways to do that.
1. Hone your “why” and your brand
What propelled you out of bed and to work this morning? I ask myself this often, and the answer provides clarity as to the “why” behind my work, as well about what I may be missing. Entrepreneurs should continuously look for meaning and passion in whatever they choose to do. No matter how long you’ve been in business, it’s important to keep those qualities front and center.
It’s also essential to ensure that passion drives your business forward. The reason you kickstarted it in the first place is just the initial step: From there, find ways to make sure your brand is constantly meeting market demands and is ripe for growth opportunities.
Related: Why Discovering Your ‘Why’ Is the No. 1 Business Move
During a 2021 SubSummit talk on consumer gaps, needs and expectations, research was presented that showed that brands are often creating content for their own needs and desires, while simultaneously failing to listen to what their audience actually wants.
This highlights key challenges: the need to know who your brand serves and understand what they’re craving. This type of information can only be found with concentrated research and quality time spent in the business, rather than he it.
If you’re in the early stages of building a company, one way to sharpen focus is through pitch competitions. These events allow you to think critically about the growth of your business, its potential, its gaps and its areas of opportunity. Further, it allows you to dive into how your brand is serving its target audience.
Ultimately, winning a pitch competition can lead to networking with key investors, cash prizes and in-kind services, but even the act of practicing a pitch can help you better position yourself for success.
Related: Could Your Startup Answer These 23 Pitch Competition Questions?
2. Find a mentor
A strong leader understands that it’s impossible to know everything. The best form of growth comes from connection with others who have faced similar challenges, so
mentorship should be a key investment strategy component. Research done by Kabbage, Inc. (and discussed in a 2020 Entrepreneur article) shows that 92% of small business owners believe mentors have a direct impact on their growth and survival.
And this process doesn’t have to be complicated: Simply identify a leader you admire and reach out, or join an association in your industry to gain knowledge from a community of like-minded individuals and groups. Learn about their journey, what resources they’ve used and how they’ve evolved. Ideally, look for someone who was in a similar situation five to 10 years ago. And if you’re a more established leader, find a mentee, because there’s just as much to be gained from this relationship as from being mentored.
Learning from others’ success and failures is essential on your entrepreneurship journey and can have lasting impact on your personal and professional life.
3. Invest in your team
Surrounding yourself with people who encourage and challenge you is one of the best ways you can invest in your business. It costs you nothing, and you gain everything from a quality team.
Businesses owners need to focus on hiring not just for talent, but for mission-driven vision.
So, when hiring, look for those who share in the mission of your organization and have a passion for what you’re looking to build. Ultimately, these are the employees who will help you not only be a better entrepreneur, but also drive growth.
Related: Changing the Narrative on Hiring is Now a Necessity. Here are 3 Ways to Do It.
4. Embrace professional development
In today’s digital age, it’s imperative that you create engagement whenever possible. Ultimately, the goal is to create a lasting relationship with customers, so they never feel the need to go somewhere else. Every interaction, every email, every social post – all are opportunities for deeper engagement.
The same should be true of ourselves and our organizations. How can we regularly engage more with our company and our own personal development? To start, invest in yourself every day. Read a book, listen to a podcast or just go for a walk.
Then, take that passion for development into your business. Attend conferences that will allow you to dive deep into your organization and learn new strategies and methods. Join trade associations devoted to what you do and which will surround you with those in the industry. This will help put fresh focus on your organization and also be a pathway for new business plan opportunities to explore.