15 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Begin Investing In Their Professional Development

Investing more time into nonbusiness critical endeavors can positively impact an entrepreneur's skills and business.

Newsweek Expert Forum members share industry insights.
Newsweek Expert Forum members share industry insights.

Pursuing professional development has always been a valuable practice for continuously growing and developing business skills. Despite the benefits, however, some entrepreneurs are still reluctant to take steps toward investing in their own development. For them, any time and effort not spent on business-critical tasks may be seen as unimportant when compared to work that directly impacts and drives business.

However, entrepreneurs need to rethink their current beliefs about professional development if they are truly interested in growing their businesses and enhancing their own skills for future success. To help, 15 members of Newsweek Expert Forum shared recommendations on how entrepreneurs can take action and start investing in their own professional development.

1. Identify Your Purpose

Unlock your purpose first. Much like any construction project, personal and professional development requires a strong foundation to build upon. Entrepreneurs taking steps to invest in themselves must first understand why they are doing what they are doing. Identify your passions, share your strengths and build your legacy. We need a foundation of purpose to build a successful career upon. - Kevin Vallely, The AIP Group

2. Recognize the Value of Self-Investment

As an entrepreneur, investing in ourselves is as important as investing in our teams. By learning new ideas, concepts and best practices through professional development opportunities and sharing them with their teams, entrepreneurs can ensure that their teams will recognize the value of education and continue to grow, adapt and learn. - Jacob Kupietzky, HCT Executive Interim Management & Consulting

3. Set Up a 'Professional Development' Budget

As entrepreneurs, we often put the growth of our ventures before our own, but we also need to prioritize ourselves to succeed. I recommend allocating 15 percent of your development spend to gaining new skills or growing your network. These will help grow your business over time. - Gergo Vari, Lensa

4. Change Your Mindset About Growth

The first step is in your mindset. Many entrepreneurs avoid professional development because they think it's not real work and they don't see how it directly drives the business. But if you don't learn how to grow the way you think about your products and services, how you communicate with clients, how you innovate your processes, then your business won't scale. When you grow, so does your company. - Loren Margolis, Training & Leadership Success LLC

5. Make Time for Development

Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 year-round endeavor, but so is learning to become a better executive leader. No matter how busy you are, make time for 40 hours of professional development a year. Consider doing it onsite with a group of like-minded people in an executive program so you can double down on building your network. - Brendan P. Keegan, Merchants Fleet

6. Aim to Enhance Your Own Vision

Don't get caught up in how others built their brand, influence or company and lose sight of your own vision. Many people get enamored with motivational speakers and executive coaches and they attempt to mimic the person rather than dissect the strategies they used to become successful and adapt it to enhance their own journey. Learn from everyone you meet and strive to be the best version of yourself. - LaKesha Womack, Womack Consulting Group

7. Utilize Your Professional Network

You should be getting practical advice as your focus. Your network can distill skills and strategies into actionable tips. This can be in the form of collaborative groups, mentorships or informal chats. The key is to set clear goals with whomever you are talking to. Sometimes an hour-long chat can be more productive than a three-month certificate program. - Ivan Ravlich, Hypernet Labs

8. Seek a Trusted Mentor

I advise entrepreneurs to seek out a mentor they know and trust outside of their business. Chosen wisely, a mentor will be an invaluable resource for you to brainstorm ideas, validate thinking and get a fresh perspective. The advice you receive from a trusted mentor can be rocket fuel for you, both personally and professionally. - Matt Domo, FifthVantage

9. Ask Your Team for Feedback

Say to your team, "I'd like your help and want you to be brutally honest. I want everyone at this company to feel I am the best boss they've ever worked for." Going forward, ask them what observable positive behaviors you must consistently demonstrate and what observable negative behaviors you must eliminate for people to feel that way about you. Then ask your team to suggest how best to learn those behaviors. - Mark Goulston, Mark Goulston, M.D., Inc.

10. Change the Way You Respond to Adversity

Building and running your own business can take a toll on even the strongest person. If you are investing in yourself, I suggest investing in your mindset and in the power of your thoughts. Changing the way you respond to adversity can make dramatic shifts in how you recover from the inevitable ups and downs. Our minds are powerful, so if we fill them with thoughts of lack, that's what we will attract. - Robbin McManne, Parenting for Connection

11. Read Content by Industry Leaders

Reading is a great and inexpensive way for entrepreneurs to invest in themselves, learn and avoid business pitfalls. Being well-read gives business leaders an advantage over their peers and builds confidence. Entrepreneurs should seek out relevant articles and books by leaders who have failed and achieved success in their industries to learn from them. - Matt Drayton, Drayton Communications LLC

12. Take More Time Away From the Business

As an entrepreneur, it is difficult to spend time away from the business. Though, in my experience, professional development has rewards that will save you time and energy while providing inspiration and connections. I always glean fantastic nuggets while I'm away that I wouldn't have if I stayed plugging away on my business! You are worth investing in! - Karen Valencic, Spiral Impact

13. See Development as a Long-Term Investment

A mentor once told me about the book The Richest Man in Babylon, which talks about the process of paying yourself first. This is not the typical mindset of many Americans. Every entrepreneur will need to learn how to ensure that a portion of their earnings are going back into helping them grow and advance personally and professionally. - Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint

14. Start Integrating Audiobooks into Your Life

Even if you don't think you have the time or money to invest in yourself as a professional, there are always fantastic audiobooks on leadership, industry insights and more that you can listen to in short spurts while you clean the house, drive to work or get ready in the morning. I have found many of these audiobooks to be incredibly useful and packed with advice I have been able to implement swiftly. - April Margulies, Trust Relations

15. Expect To Put in Time and Effort

Finding time to focus on growing yourself professionally can be difficult when so much of your energy is spent on business development. However, the difference between entrepreneurs who succeed and keep on succeeding and those who plateau often comes down to how much time is invested in continued education, self-directed learning and deepening skills. - Anthem Blanchard, HeraSoft

The Newsweek Expert Forum is an invitation-only network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.
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