When you take on the challenge of owning your own business you are faced with hundreds of decisions every day. They come at you from every direction, some you are prepared for, but some (most) catch us by surprise. How do we keep pace, anticipate and gain the confidence to manage all this craziness? Your business depends on your steady hand and decisiveness to move it forward; your success is not only important to your livelihood, but to those you employ. So what can you do to stay ahead of the curve? For me it has been by being open to embracing my shortcomings, regularly assessing progress (or sometimes the lack of progress) and regularly accessing outside guidance. There are three areas of guidance or education I embrace to help myself focus on the things most important to me, to my business and to my profession. I have enlisted outside resources to continue my education in personal, practice and professional growth. For me this is instrumental to success.

Personal Growth

I have accessed many tools for personal growth that most entrepreneurs are familiar with: Steven Covey, Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins and a host of others. I’ve gleaned many insights from them, but for me my biggest growth can be attributed to my year in Strategic Coach. If you’re not familiar with their program I highly suggest you check it out. It revealed my greatest strengths and gave me permission to pursue those while ensuring I understood how to make sure my short comings were supported by others. Strategic Coach’s Entrepreneurial Time System and other tools work with how you work rather than trying to fit you into someone else’s system. Dan Sullivan and his team run a program that stresses life balance. By getting your business and personal worlds under control you will relieve a ton of the stress that we entrepreneurs tend to bring on ourselves. My only regret is that I have not stayed in the program. That regret I soon hope to put behind me by reactivating with Strategic Coach. Get more information on their program at www.strategiccoach.com/home.html

Practice Growth

As a business owner we spend all our time working IN the business, thus there is little time to work ON the business. Sadly, some of the best work we can do to ensure our success is to dedicate time to work ON our business. For many it is not an area where we excel, so we tend to avoid it. Stepping back to assess what’s working, what’s not, where efforts are focused and what is being neglected can make a huge difference in the direction of your company. I have been lucky. When I chose to become an Independent Advisor, I aligned with a firm that has a program known as “Power in Practice.” This program took me out of the office once every quarter to work ON my business. Without this external assistance I would not have documented my key business processes, hiring procedures, investment management platforms and other issues that impact the day-to-day operations of my firm. My employees have benefitted most from this because it has given structure to all aspects of how we do business. This has done wonders to reduce stress while making a significant impact to both the top and bottom line. I continue to engage in the practices and tools provided by this program and have a peer group I discuss issues with regularly. I would highly recommend seeking out something similar that focuses on running a business in your particular industry. Finding an industry specific program is important; tools that work for one industry don’t always integrate well with another. Look for referrals at industry events or from your peers. Embrace the process; if you fight it, you will be wasting your time and money.  If embraced, the benefits will separate you from your competition, improve your work environment, enhance the productivity of your team and reduce your stress. Now, who couldn’t use that?

Professional Growth

No matter your business focus, it seems that change, regulation, competition and other forces are pushing the need for professional growth. We as a firm made the decision to focus on the unique needs of business owners. We identified a glaring need to provide assistance for meeting the responsibilities of managing the company Retirement Plan, so I sought out the special expertise needed to serve this growing issue. I pursued certifications providing the ongoing continuing education to keep pace with the rapidly evolving Retirement Plan/401K market place. By obtaining the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) and Professional Plan Consultant (PPC™) designations, I am able to offer insight and capabilities that separate my firm from our competition. Without it I would be shortchanging my clients who depend on us to maintain their fiduciary responsibilities as a Plan Sponsor. Department of Labor regulations are coming at them fast and furious and they need help. As one new client put it “I didn’t know what I didn’t know;” not an answer you want to give to the DOL. I believe upgrading my knowledge and keeping it current significantly impacted the growth of our 401K business. Last year we doubled our retirement plan business and we’re on track for substantial growth again this year.

Take Action

I know it’s hard to justify taking time from the business to work on the business, your knowledge and yourself. But it has been the best time and money investment I have made. Continual improvement is the focus, and sometimes we are so close to the subject that it’s hard to be objective. Stepping away from the day-to-day and experiencing growth in areas important to our families, friends, staff and businesses are necessary to achieve our best results. I hope my experience helps and that you give yourself the permission to pursue similar opportunities.

Rich Tegge is President/Owner of Wealth Strategy Group and Mi401K Consultants. The firm focuses on the unique needs of business owners. Rich has over 18 years of experience guiding clients in meeting their financial goals. He has founded or co-founded several successful businesses in different industries.

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