My son explained to me yesterday why he didn’t want to lead his middle school Sunday school class again next year. When he started talking, I admit, I was a little disappointed. Isn’t it important to share your faith and point the next generation to God?
He went on to explain that he felt he needed to grow more in his faith and knowledge of God’s Word to be worthy of leading these boys. He wants to seek a men’s small group to participate in over the next year where he has older, more spiritually mature men to lead him and share their knowledge with him.
Soon my heart settled and I appreciated the wisdom he had at only 19 years of age.
Yes, he could learn ahead of the kids by reading the Bible and preparing the lessons. We learn even more when we teach. But he was in this for the long haul, and he wanted to be discipled and to learn and build a firm foundation.
This had me thinking about a similar path I see in small businesses.
Many times small business owners are living the entrepreneurial life, day-by-day, and teaching their team what they learned possibly as late as yesterday. They are willing to share what they know about the business, but they are usually learning as they go. Bringing their team along the winding, long path.
Although I prefer small business and being an entrepreneur myself, I can’t deny the significant benefits of my education and my corporate experience. They provided me with a solid, diverse foundation of business knowledge, and more importantly, a method to strategically thinking through business opportunities and challenges.
The Life Application of Business Principles
I learned in my business discipleship how to apply business principles in whatever business I was working in.
This has been invaluable and I believe it is the secret ingredient of my ability to coach a variety of business owners in a diverse array of business types and industries.
As a small business owner, do you have a strong foundation of business knowledge and life application processes?
Are you prepared to really disciple your team in business?
If not, do you have a plan to get there?
Here are some ways you can prepare yourself to disciple your team:
- Read a DIVERSE array of business books on topics across all disciplines of business. Many of us don’t read at all. Some of us read, but we tend to keep going back to the same business discipline. We may want to grow sales and always read about selling techniques or a selling mindset. We need to be reading about financial management, systems and processes, managing employees, motivating employees, training employees, creating a vision, developing marketing strategies, and so on. I recommend you try to read one business book per month, each on a complete different business discipline.
- Find at least ONE in-depth training per year to go to. As a licensed professional counselor, I have to get 40 continuing education credits every two years. This is about 40+ hours of education. This equates to about one truly in-depth training per year. For the business side of my practice, I try to do the same. I know it is hard to be disciplined about this, but you need to not just choose the areas of business you like. Although I believe that we all need to work in our strengths, as the owner of your own business, you need to be exposed to and have education in all areas of business. If for no other reason than to be able to manage the people doing those functions in your business.
- Consider college courses if not a business degree. One of the benefits of college courses is that they give you business foundations that can be applied to any industry. I believe my college coursework significantly enhanced my ability to apply my knowledge. Because I didn’t learn the information directly associated with a specific job or industry, I don’t put limits around the knowledge. I don’t automatically assume it is just how you do it in the “coffee business” or the “restaurant industry.”
- Find a business coach. I am biased, but I feel like you need to find a business coach with business experience, as well as education. Right now there are many coaches that feel that they can coach on any topic because they are just pulling the answers you already have in you out. This may be fine for executing something specific in your business, but this will not be the person that can help you develop a firm business foundation. You need to find someone that has the formal college education, who has worked in industry in a variety of roles, and who also understands the world of entrepreneurship…because entrepreneurial endeavors are at times very different than the corporate world. Not only can a business coach provide some of the training and education you need for your own foundation, but they can hold you accountable to continue using the other suggestions above.
Educating and applying our business knowledge is a journey. It never ends. Just like discipling others is a process, not a one-time activity.
Your team needs the same foundation as you do and you may not be able to provide it all yourself. You may need to take a year or two off in being the only teacher, like my son, and work on your own foundation.
In the meantime, this middle school group still needs to grow and be discipled.
In the meantime, YOUR team needs to continue learning and growing.
Invest in their development too. Get them on a path to using the tools above. It may be reading a book or participating in online webinars. There are many resources available to help develop your team. It doesn’t have to all fall to you.
The part that does fall on you is to create the culture in your team of developing a strong business foundation.
Where will you start? I want to challenge you to write down a plan for yourself and each of your key people. Pick one or two goals for business education and development for each of you.