Are you up to the job?

Sean Taggart is the CEO of Albatross Travel and also serves as a Commissioner with the UK Commission for Employment and Skillls.

Are you running a business but feel that you don’t spend much time developing yourself or learning new skills that would help you and your business perform better? Is it a daily challenge to keep up with developments?

If you’re the sole manager and leader of your business then everything depends on you.  Think – is it time to invest in yourself and your skills to give your business the best chance of surviving and thriving?

Despite the fact they are usually responsible for ensuring that their staff are trained, business owners and managers are the least likely group to invest in developing themselves. In fact, a survey of over 87,000 establishments by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills where I am a Commissioner found that less than half of managers had received any training in the previous twelve months.

This does not seem the right balance, particularly in small businesses when managers have to do everything from setting future strategy to battling the day to day issues of cash flow, orders, finances and customers. Are you still relying on skills and abilities learnt when you first started out in business?  Is it time to refresh your skills and knowledge to ensure that your business can both adapt and thrive?

Although there have been a few encouraging signs of growth, there has never been a more hostile external environment in which to work, and business failures continue to exceed start-ups.  Managers and owners of small businesses know about increased competition, know how they must maintain excellence and meet ever-increasing consumer demands. More and more of us are recognising that investing in our people and their development can deliver a direct and measurable increase in business performance. But is there someone missing?

Take some time out to appraise yourself as if you were an employee.  What are your strengths and areas for development?  Be honest with yourself – it isn’t always easy! Listen to your staff, both when you’re having a conversation with them, and when they’re chatting amongst themselves.  What are their views?  Maybe even ask some of them and see how much of yourself you recognise. An independent third-party opinion can be extremely valuable, too, and doesn’t have to be expensive – there are many companies out there whose business is to help yours. Investors in People, for example, can provide cost-effective advice and guidance tailored to the specific needs of you and your business.

However you do it, take the time to sit down and really think about yourself and how your abilities can give your company the best chance.

Sources of useful information and guidance At 21 years old, Investors in People has a lot of experience helping businesses transform their performance through their people.  This service has evolved hugely over the last few years. Gone are the days of reams of paper and form filling. Now it is all about driving up business performance through your people, whatever your business size.  They also have a free online diagnostic tool, IIP interactive. – help and support to turn a dream into a working, profitable business connects companies with mentoring organisations that can guide and support their growth.  If you are a business that needs support, or a business professional that can offer help, mentors me can put you in touch with each other.