8 self-development activities founders should never sleep on

With our focus so heavily on business development it can be easy for founders to overlook self-development activities.

And yet, we invest so much of ourselves into our businesses that the link between our own personal and professional growth and that of our business success shouldn’t be too hard to grasp.

There is, after all, no way to comprehensively prepare for being a founder.

We all learn entrepreneurship actively while on the job. And if we’re not constantly improving and learning we run the risk that our companies will quickly outgrow us.

So, here are eight self-development activities that are not to be slept on.

Get physical

Try and remain balanced in the highs and lows of business, exercise and make sure you look after your mental health. – Gary Hunter, Founder

For many founders the camaraderie and competition of team sports is where the arena in which they challenge themselves in. For others, however, it is the personal goal setting of sports such as running, cycling or workouts at the gym that provide the test.

Beyond those PB’s smashed or leagues won there is also a strong belief that exercise helps to bust stress and clear the mind.

Get jotting

One of the most powerful methods for keeping your eyes on the big picture is through journaling: revisit your weeks in a journal, review your previous entries, grow the masterplan and the ways to get there. – Richard Fong, Founder

The discipline of keeping a journal helps to record the rush of daily thoughts while maintaining a focus on the ‘big picture.’

Some use images and icons to record healthy/unhealthy meals, exercise taken, units of alcohol consumed, time spent with family and pretty much any other event they wish to monitor. Others focus on business-related goals, milestones and to-do lists.

As founders tend to juggle so many things, it is easy for some to get lost in the mix – a journal helps to surface these.

Get talking

Speak to people, a lot. Colleagues, suppliers, customers – only by lots of dialogue will you truly understand. It’s far better to meet folk and talk stuff through than to send an email. – Mike Utting, Founder

Networking with other founders is the key to staying inspired and finding solutions.

Talking to other founders removes that sense that you are facing challenges alone – and gives the lie to the sense that every problem you face is unique.

There are plenty of forums out there for meets – or industry events you can attend – but if you can’t find exactly what you are looking for, why not host a founders’ meet yourself?

Get advice

Building a strong mentoring structure around you is key. Identify people that you admire that have been through what you are trying to do. Most people are happy to share their advice and won’t always charge for it. Most of the challenges you face have been faced and overcome before!
Jim Hawker, Founder

It can be so easy to get lost in the day-to-day activities and task lists – and we even become wrapped up in ways of thinking that once suited us but now hold us back.

That’s why an external perspective from a mentor is so invaluable.

Of course, your mentor should have relevant experience and be willing to share that experience with you on a regular basis. They should also have strong networks and be willing to share these with you too.  But the most important thing you should look for in a mentor is trust. You have to be able to tell them everything that’s on your mind, and you have to trust them to tell it to you straight.

And finally, don’t be afraid to move on.

Most mentors are more suited to different stages of your and your company’s development than others. If your needs have changed – then maybe so should your mentor.

Get reading

Books are also great mentor’s and you should build your own library. Stand on the shoulders of giants. – Richard Flannagan, Founder

Whether your preference is journals, magazines, blogs, podcasts, books, videos or any other way to keep on top of your profession, just keep at it.

Why not look for founder book clubs or start a business book club among your staff?

Get away

Working hard is necessary, but so is rest. I’ve learnt from experience that spending time away from work to refresh will only amplify results and allow me to work more efficiently and productively. – Andrew Fennell, Founder

Time to reflect and take care of yourself can so often get lost in the mix. Yet, without a break away from it all how will it ever have time to coalesce and firm up?

While external sources of support are essential so too are internal ones. That’s why activities like keeping a journal can be so important – they offer you that vital me-time.

Taking time out to learn from yourself and to listen to yourself can be when things really start to come together for you.

Why not pencil in every quarter to take yourself to a hotel for a day and just do dome thinking?

You’ll be amazed at what you can hear when you have the time to truly listen to yourself.