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5 professional development methods for entrepreneurs

It is common that micro-management activities specific to running a business occupy most of the time for entrepreneurs, while the activities aimed at professional and personal development are postponed or even disregarded. However, we can also agree that the business and its results reflect the person(s) responsible with the execution and planning of the strategy, their skills and their applicable knowledge.

By upgrading existing knowledge and exploring new concepts and techniques, the entrepreneur is actually preparing for the development of his business and addressing new challenges in addition to his professional and personal growth. Depending on learning and practice preferences or objectives themselves, there are five methods which entrepreneurs can use to regularly expand their knowledge and skills.

1. Coaching

Focused on pragmatic results and achievable objectives, Coaching involves appointing an experienced person (coach) in the chosen field to guide, supervise and evaluate the person who needs to learn or acquire new knowledge and practices. In the context of a business, coaching can be used as a process of employee development by designating a coach from inside the company (e.g. a senior employee, manager, human resources officer, etc.).

Instead, for an entrepreneur, an external coach that can also serve as a consultant, can assist in achieving clear and previously agreed objectives: More effective communication in general and in the professional environment, organisational culture, improvement of project management, mapping of company development strategies, etc. All training and evaluation efforts are within a timeframe in order to measure the progress made by the entrepreneur after several individual coaching sessions.

2. Mentoring

Similar to coaching, since it involves a partnership of learning and development between a person with extensive experience (mentor) and a person seeking to assimilate new knowledge (mentee), Mentoring also provides a psycho-social support perceived by the recipient as relevant for work and professional development. The most relevant techniques for entrepreneurship include:

  1. Accompanying: It represents the mentor’s active participation in the mentorship process; the two discuss, plan and act together to achieve the objectives set and to achieve the desired mental/emotional condition;
  2. Catalyzing: Is based on the assumption that the learning process can only move forward with a critical level of pressure for change; the mentor provides an urgent sense of the need for the entrepreneur to shift certain practices and thinking methods in order to develop together with his business;
  3. Showing: It is assistance by way of example; the mentor ensures that his mentee’s indications are accompanied by a model through the mentor’s own person and relationship with others, through his own behaviour and judgment. This technique highlights the importance of credibility for quality Mentoring.

3. Self-Development

Suitable for those whose motivation and will rely on internal factors and whose belief is that the need for change and growth must be adopted in the daily routine, Self-Development stresses the need to be responsible for our own personal and professional development.

This method is intended for self-educated entrepreneurs, conscious of themselves and who tend to constantly self-assess in order to determine what needs change, deepening or learning. In addition to this sense of self, the entrepreneur will surely use his curiosity, commitment and flexibility to achieve the desired results through self-development. The following are the techniques that entrepreneurs can adopt for self-development:

  1. Reading several books, most of which could address business issues (training strategies, marketing, finance, team management, etc.), and the rest of the topics may vary according to their own interests relevant in the daily world (politics, internal and external events, culture, etc.);
  2. Taking regular courses; Either online on dedicated platforms or in an organised framework where, in addition, Networking can be done, such a deepening of knowledge on entrepreneurship, management, business strategies, etc. can increase considerably the level of professional performance;
  3. Improving time management; most of the responsibilities of entrepreneurs come from managing the business, but the way in which they organise their tasks is a matter of personal development, namely the organisation of the available time and the efficiency with which priorities are set so that continuous business growth is constantly targeted.

4. Networking

The pattern established by the other professional development methods is a linear process that starts with setting development objectives and ends with achieving quantifiable results. Networking involves the acquisition of information and ideas and the recognition of business opportunities in an often-informal context through interaction with other professionals in the field.

The aims of the entrepreneur during such an event may include the identification and acquaintance of potential partners for future projects and information on new trends in relevant business areas. Moreover, the exchange of views and knowledge on business practices, as well as the description of concrete emergencies and their resolve may prove indispensable for further work. Networking opportunities can be identified in conferences, presentations, courses, symposia, etc.

5. Training

As the second method of professional development involving participation in a group, Training involves the distribution of knowledge in both theoretical and practical terms. The participants shall be provided with concepts and methodologies to subsequently apply them through relevant exercises with a degree of progressive difficulty. New specific skills are thus learned and existing ones are furtherly developed in order to master the concerned field.

Entrepreneurs may find useful or even necessary many Training topics that deal with business management topics: project and people management, negotiating skills and leadership, communication, public speaking and presentation skills, planning of strategies and organisational culture and many more. Another advantage of Training is often times the forming of useful connections between participants, as integrated Networking sessions are generally appreciated and even perceived as the main benefit of signing up by certain participants.

As Training has risen to the level of industry in the last two decades, competition between providers has intensified. Entrepreneurs looking for schooling and new information relevant for their activity are choosing those offers which stand out through the value represented by the professionalism and experience of the trainers or the personalised elements (business plans adapted for each of the participants or business strategies built during the Training).

Training is the method the Idea Perpetua team considers ideal for a complete development of the skills and knowledge necessary for an entrepreneur, especially the one just launching or willing to launch a start-up. We consider that efforts to personalise the experience of the participants of the Training are most important, together with facilitating useful instruments for their activity as entrepreneurs. Therefore, beginning with March 2020, we are going to hold an Entrepreneurship Workshop which aims to rigorously prepare for the launching of a business and to certify entrepreneurial skills.

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