a stack of books on a table
We cannot lead anyone farther than we have been ourselves.John C. Maxwell

As a business owner and leader, you are the greatest limiting factor on your business’ ability to grow. You have to grow before your business can grow.

This principle is repeated by renowned business and thought leaders time and time again. So, why do so many small business owners neglect to invest in their own growth?

The problem with your company is not the economy, it is not the lack of opportunity, it is not your team. The problem is you. That is the bad news. The good news is, if you’re the problem, you’re also the solution. You’re the one person you can change the easiest. You can decide to grow. Grow your abilities, your character, your education, and your capacity. You can decide who you want to be and get about the business of becoming that person. ~ Dave Ramsey, Entreleadership

Leaders are learners

If you’re not interested in growing your small business, that’s okay. There isn’t anything unethical or immoral about being entirely content with where your business is at today.

But since you’re reading Surthrival, I’m going to assume that you’re here precisely because you want to grow your small business. That’s what Small Business Surthrival is all about, after all - helping highly motivated small business owners like you take your business from surviving to thriving.

Here’s the truth: the “thriving you” must necessarily be different from the “surviving you”. Personal growth and change are necessary ingredients if you want to grow your business. Working harder will only get you so far.

You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read. ~ Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

Yes. You are a leader.

Do you have even one team member working for you? Then you’re a leader.

Do you have customers? Then you’re a leader.

Even if you’re a one-person show today, the growth of your business depends on you leading it to something bigger than yourself.

If your dream doesn’t require a team, chances are good you’re dreaming too small. ~ Michael Hyatt, The Vision Driven Leader

Unless you want to stay stuck on the hamster wheel of just surviving in business, you’re going to need a team to grow your business bigger than yourself. And that means that you’re going to need to lead yourself and others.

And if you’re going to lead, then you need to grow.

Reading Learning is the key

I get it! Not everyone is a reader. And that’s okay. What’s not okay, is not learning at all.

Earlier, I quoted Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. He is also known for saying that, “Leaders are readers”. I have a feeling that if he were alive today, he would have included more than reading books in that statement. Today, we’re privileged to have many different ways of learning, so you have no excuse to not be constantly growing.

You can learn from:

You certainly don’t have to use all of these! Just pick one from the list and get started.

Learn for growth

If it’s true that you are the greatest limiting factor on the ability for your business to grow, then it follows that you should intentionally grow yourself in the areas that are the biggest challenges for you or your business right now.

Struggling to lead your small team? Get hooked into a book or podcast that will challenge and equip you as a leader.

If your vision for your business ends at tomorrow, maybe you should find a resource that will inspire you to dream bigger and clarify the mission you’re on.

Is there a new trend, technology, or problem facing your industry? Don’t wait until your business is suffering from your lack of knowledge! Start educating yourself so that you can turn those changes in the world to your advantage.

You’ll have to make time

If you’re like most small business owners, then the single greatest hurdle you’re going to face in growing yourself is time.

As I’ve written about before, I believe this generally comes down to the issue of working in the business instead of on the business. We get so busy in the day-to-day operations that it is difficult for us to make space to work on the business… by growing ourselves.

I wish I had some magic pill to give you more time, but alas, I do not. There are, however, some great strategies for using the time you do have more productively.

Ultimately, making time for your own growth and development is up to you. No one else can make you do this. You’re the owner, after all.

Here’s what has been working for me over the past few years. The first thing I look for are ways that I already spend time that could be redeemed or multipurposed. For example, when I’m exercising, working in the garden, whacking weeds, driving to a meeting, or working on other low-cognitive tasks are the perfect times to listen to an audiobook or a podcast.

screenshot of a podcast list
About 1/3 of the podcasts in my regular lineup

Next, I have been making pacts with myself to make small amounts of progress every day. It’s amazing how many books you can get through in a year when you’re committed to reading for just 10 minutes each day!

What has worked for me may not work for you, but I encourage you to get creative with your schedule. If growing is important enough to you, you’ll find time to make it happen.

How this will make you more money

As a growth-minded business owner, your ultimate goal should be to grow and mature your business so that it’s bigger than you.

If everything depends on you, then you are the ceiling on your business’ potential. The only way for you to change the way you operate and lead your business is to know more tomorrow than you know today.

Learning is the path to taking your business to the next level and getting out of survival mode.

Make time to grow yourself. Your business will follow.

To thriving,