Entrepreneurs and 2010: How To Build Your Development Plan

by Jill Foster on November 13, 2009

Grow lamps

When my niece was quite small
-I took her to the Smithsonian’s Natural History museum. At the end of our visit she announced, as only a 4 year old can, that it had been ‘three many funs’. And then patiently she explained to me that meant she had learned lots of new things, interesting and exciting stuff.

Too many of us lose our early curiosity and wonder and interest in learning. And, if you want to grow your business, that can kill you.
Yet most solopreneurs and entrepreneurs do not have a real plan in place to invest in their own knowledge and development.

Image Grow Lamps by Netream, Creative Commons.

Take a look at yourself with these questions:

What have you done differently in the past year as a result of some reading or training or development activity?

What non-fiction books have you read?

What publications, research services, or article clipping services do you read regularly in your field? In other areas? On the future?

What new skills have you learned?

What training have you undertaken?

Certainly, when you start a new business there is a huge learning curve. And some of us are quite good about keeping up with the changes in our work. But we are often so busy, we lose sight of our longer-term goals (and our own ongoing education).

Key criteria for your 2010 business plan

Add a component for your own development:
What do you need to focus on? How will you do so? Be specific. Write down what you will do and when.

As you attend professional events:
Plan beforehand: what do you want to get out of this and how will you know you have succeeded?

As you look at your network, keep new partnerships in mind:
Think of those who can help you to broaden or deepen your knowledge and skills. Make them your partners. Your connections can bring you information, ideas, and reality checks. So how do you convert some people from ‘your network’ to your partners?

Partners come most easily from those people you have invested some time and effort into knowing. And, as you grow your networks, you may identify other potential partners. Just remember you have to invest in them as well as take!

Partnering for support
At times in any business, you need feedback on your next step or help to get unstuck or even a safe place to vent. These are people you trust and know well enough to ask for assistance or help or an ear. Outside of work, they might be called close friends.

My YouTube story
Last year a client asked me to do some job search tips videos for YouTube. Now I speak frequently on careers and job search, so I know the issues. But me on Youtube – way too scary! So I learned about avatars – but no sale. I pushed myself and tried – and hated them. But I talked to an actress, a communications artist, some speakers, a photographer – all partners of mine.

And while I still am not thrilled with these video projects, I can really see my progress.

Partnering to grow knowledge and your business
Who are the people you know who understand your marketplace and can help you with feedback on your plans and ideas? These are the folks you talk to, go out to lunch with, or turn into a mini-group of your own – and talk business with regularly. Just the conversation leaves you with ideas and energy. Competitors, collaborators, those in complimentary fields with an overlapping client base, and folks who are totally outside your immediate world. Each offers a perspective that is valuable to you.

Owning your education, new ideas, and decisions to act
I was interested, at the GrowSmartBiz Conference, on how many people I met who were there to get a fresh perspective, to find new ideas, or to jumpstart 2010. And it was a great event for all of those. But I wonder how many have followed through? Or even read the materials? Most importantly, how many have taken any action based on what they learned?

A charge to you
Behavioral economics teaches many lessons on how and why we intend to make an important change but procrastinate. And thus my charge to you:

  • Start your development plan for 2010 right now.
  • Find 30 minutes in the next 2 days and make some notes.
  • Find an hour next week and do some research.
  • And before two weeks are out: write down your goals and how you will achieve them.
  • Want a real commitment? Share your plan with someone.
  • Plus, send them to me and I will add an idea if you like … Patricia (at) SHRinsight.com.
  • Or leave a comment here on the blog. It’s important and I’d like to learn what you’re doing for your development plan.

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Guest contributor Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, speaker, and executive with expertise in human capital. Launching a new Women Grow Business series on human resources for small business, Patricia is founder of Strategies for Human Resources. She helps small to mid-size organizations achieve their goals through more effective human capital strategy and management. And she can be reached through her website SHRinsight.com, where archives for her ongoing management series can be found.

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