Skip to main content




When you’re running a business, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day operations and lose sight of your own personal development. However, these personal development tips for successful business owners will help you to maintain a balance between your personal and professional life. It’s crucial to carve out time for self-care and personal development if you want to be successful and maintain harmony between your personal and professional life. Let’s take a closer look at what personal development is and then our 10 personal development tips for successful business owners to consider when thinking about your own growth:

What is personal development in business?

Personal development is the process of improving yourself. It can be done in various ways: taking classes, reading books, doing activities or anything else that helps you grow as a person. As any business owner knows, business is not stagnant. Trends and markets change, so the ability to grow and move with the times is vital to success. 

Personal development creates and nurtures the skills and mindset required to achieve your personal and business goals by making you more successful. Prioritising regular time for your own development can make you more confident, happier and more engaged with what you are doing. Let’s dive into the 10 personal development tips for successful business owners.

For more insights on the importance of personal development in business, you can check out this article from Forbes

1. Consider your personal life.

If you’re a business owner, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about your business. In fact, there’s a good chance you’re spending so much time on it that there’s not enough left to think about anything else. And while it’s important to make sure your business is running smoothly, it’s also important—not just for your sanity but also your well-being—to take some time off and consider other aspects of your life as well.

  • Think about your family and friends. Are you spending enough time with them? Are they supportive of what you do? Whilst we can’t just ditch some of the people in our lives, we can start to build relationships with more of the right kind of people. Networking is a fantastic way to find supportive, like-minded people to hang out with.
  • Take some time off from work regularly. It can be hard to switch off from your own business, but it’s crucial to give yourself a break to refresh and come back with a fresh perspective. A holiday isn’t always doable, but anything that brings you some joy and distracts you for a while will be just as effective. 
  • This leads us to personal interests/hobbies/etc., especially those outside work hours. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? Could taking part in these activities more often benefit your company by making you more efficient or creative? If so, how could you fit them into your schedule? Be honest about what activities will boost instead of drain energy from each day—and then act accordingly!

2. Keep self-care top of mind

You’ve heard it before: Self-care is important. But how can you make sure you’re taking good care of yourself in the midst of running a business?

  • Know what kind of self-care works for you. Not everyone has the same definition of it, so be honest with yourself about what makes you feel good during stressful times. Do you need more sleep? A massage? Or maybe some alone time where no one is asking anything from or expecting anything from you? Work out what you need, identify the activities that are most likely to help recharge your batteries, and schedule them into your diary – even if they seem indulgent at first!
  • Start small with one or two things that work well for your lifestyle right now, and then gradually add more. For example, if meditating every morning helps clear your mind before diving into work, why not carve out 15 minutes every day for this activity instead of 30 minutes on a couple of days? It may sound counterintuitive at first glance—after all, shouldn’t we simply strive towards doing more each day? However, small, consistent actions can be more powerful than large sporadic ones. 

3. Learn how to network effectively

I’m sure we don’t need to tell you that the most important people in business are your customers. If you have no customers, you don’t have a business. The best way to get more customers is through networking—but not just any kind of networking. You need to be strategic about it and work on developing your relationships with specific individuals that can help further your career or business goals. This is one of the key personal development tips for successful business owners.

Knowing what you want and being specific in what you ask for is key, whilst also keeping in mind that networking isn’t just about converting the people in the room. At The Cobra Club, we love seeing our members form all kinds of successful relationships with each other, from collaborations to customers to referral partners and even friendships.

For more great networking tips, read our complete guide to business networking.

4. Always be learning

Keeping an open mind and being receptive to new thoughts and ideas will allow you to learn from every conversation and experience you have. 

  • Learn from everyone. What to do, what not to do. We all have our own unique experiences, and you can earn a lot from other people if you take the time to really listen.
  • Learn from your mistakes. There are no failures, only lessons. Shifting your mindset in this way will have far-reaching benefits. Instead of berating yourself for things that didn’t go as planned, learn from them to make better decisions in the future. Otherwise, you may find yourself repeating the same mistakes time and time again!
  • Learn from your successes. These also come with a great opportunity to learn. Create a habit of analysing why things have gone well to repeat that process.
  • Learn from your mentors, peers, customers and competitors as well! You can literally learn from everyone, and you don’t always need to pay for expensive masterminds or coaching to do so. Simply observe and listen mindfully. Ask yourself often, what can I take away from this?

5. Look at your time management skills.

You can’t do everything. There are only so many hours in the day, and if you don’t manage your time effectively, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Many small business owners are flying solo, so trying to manage all aspects of running a business can feel impossible at times. 

There are numerous tools and advice out there for better time management. Finding what works and implementing it will be key to your success here. It can be easy to keep searching for a quick fix when the reality is, like most things in life, it’s putting in the effort that makes a difference. 

Here are three quick tips to improve your time management:

  • At the end of your day, brain dump all the tasks in your head to get everything out. Next, number them in order of priority and choose the three most important ones for the next day.
  • Schedule your tasks in your diary around your personal and other commitments, and remember to make time for self-care and other healthy habits.
  • One popular and effective tool is the Pomodoro technique. This involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break. Set your task intention at the start of each round and turn off all distractions. 

6. Assess your leadership skills.

The ability to lead and inspire others is one of the most important skills a business owner can possess. To be able to do so, you need to be self-aware and know your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. If you’re unsure where your leadership skills currently stand, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have a clear vision for the future?
  • Can I motivate people to achieve that vision?
  • Can I delegate tasks effectively without micromanaging others?
  • Am I able to inspire trust in my employees?
  • Am I able to show empathy toward others’ needs, both team members and customers?

7. Think about how you handle stress.

Stress is a normal part of life, and a moderate amount is healthy and required for motivation. Problems arise, however, when we have too much stress from internal and external factors whilst also not dealing with it effectively.  

  • Take stock of your stress levels. Are they manageable and healthy, or are they causing you to fatigue and head toward burnout? Learn to recognise when your stress starts to switch from motivational to exhausting and intervene to keep it in the healthy range. 
  • Accept that stress is a normal part of life. Particularly for business owners.
  • Consider the ways in which you currently handle or reduce stress. Are they healthy or destructive? 
  • Make time throughout your day for a few minutes of focused breathing, meditation or some yoga or other calming, focused movement. Building this into your day will help reduce stress levels and allow you to focus better on the tasks at hand.
  • Ask yourself: Are there any habits or behaviours in my life that are causing unnecessary stress? If so, is it possible to make changes to them so they become less impactful?

8. Sharpen your people skills

When it comes to business and personal development, good people skills are crucial. Anyone can learn how to grow a business or make money. But if you aren’t good at handling people, you’re going to find it a constant uphill battle of stress and setbacks. 

So, what exactly are people skills? How do you develop them, or know when they need sharpening? Let’s take a quick look at some basic tips in this area:

  • Listen more than you talk. We are all familiar with feeling desperate to say our piece, or not being listened to, or, worse, talked over! Switch your intention during conversations from wanting to have your say to get curious about what others are saying. Really pay attention and listen. You could also make notes, whether it’s a networking meeting, 121 or client call, and gather information on people, so you always have something relevant to ask them about. You’ll build rapport much more quickly when you are genuinely interested in them. 
  • Ask questions. Listening alone isn’t enough; asking questions shows you not only heard what they said but are also interested in it. It also indicates respect for their ideas and opinions, even if they aren’t exactly like yours.
  • Try and see things from another’s perspective. For some, this comes easily, but for many, it doesn’t. If you struggle to see other people’s points of view at times, this is definitely an area to work on. 

9. Consider your health and fitness goals.

We all know we should be well hydrated, eat well and exercise, but do you realise the impact that not doing these things is having on your performance? Being in good physical condition will improve your productivity, focus, problem-solving and mood in general. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, tired and unmotivated, there’s a good chance you aren’t looking after your health as well as you could be.

Being busy running a business isn’t a reason to neglect your health. So start prioritising yourself.

10. Set specific goals for short, medium and long term

While you may have a general idea of where you want to get to in the future, setting clear goals with time frames is much more effective. Don’t make the mistake of just thinking of a few things that might be nice and then never looking at them again. Follow these simple steps to help achieve them:

  • Brain dump everything you want, and don’t be afraid to think big!
  • Set time frames for all of them of 1, 3, 5 or 10+ years.
  • Break down big goals into smaller steps, again with a timeframe.
  • Be specific: “lose weight” is not as effective as “lose 15 lbs by next month.”
  • Write them in the present or past tense, not the future. Otherwise, they’ll always be in the future rather than achieved.
  • Review them daily! Keep yourself on track and use your goals to make better decisions. If it doesn’t take you toward what you really want, should you do it?

In Conclusion

The key here is not to get overwhelmed. You don’t need to do everything all at once. Hopefully, this list has given you some inspiration about the many ways personal development can help your business. It’s never too late to start investing in yourself or improving on certain skills—so if something has stood out for you here, make that your first priority. Keep in mind that it’s so important to stay focused on yourself as a person as well as an entrepreneur. If you don’t take care of yourself first, how can you take care of others… or business?

If friendly and relaxed online networking sounds like it could be for you, come along and try out The Cobra Club for free. Get started with our Complete Guide to Business Networking.

For more personal development tips for successful business owners, check out this guide by America’s SBDC.