Business Owners Can’t Opt-Out of Personal Growth

This article originally appeared in Small Biz Daily.

Congratulations! I don’t know if you’ve been told lately, but as a business owner, you have achieved the dream of thousands across the globe; to do work you like, for someone you like – yourself.

All of the years of blood, sweat and tears it took to accomplish this feat might have left you feeling pretty satisfied about the current state of your career. When you reach this plateau moment or milestone, the first instinct for many is to put on the bathrobe of success and sit back and relax.

This may feel good for a little while, cozy even, until comfort leads to complacency, and complacency leads to crashing and burning.

The hard truth is that the only way to keep growing is to keep improving. The problem for successful entrepreneurs is that it takes a lot of motivation to improve from excellent to even better.

Here are three things you can do to make sure you’re continuing to grow each day:

1. Go to a bigger pond.

There is always more to conquer. If you are on top of the citywide competition that means it’s time to move your company to a bigger arena. Take on the county, the state and the nation – create a growth plan that takes you out of your comfort zone and keeps raising that glass ceiling.

This can also include your inner circle. If you find that those around you have nothing to offer but praise, consider widening your friend group to include those who can give you more perspective. It’s been said that you are the sum of those with whom you spend the most time, so you want those individuals to challenge and change you, not just continually compliment you.

2. Remember your competition.

The top spot is always yours to lose. The moment you decide you have enough of a lead to slow down, competitors will start moving faster to catch up. Remember: Your competition is not comfortable; they have a reason to grow.

As the business owner, it’s your job to protect your company by staying up-to-date on the latest trends in your career field, including learning new skill sets, developing new products and implementing new technology and workflows. When was the last time you attended an industry conference? Are there benefits that your company could offer, but isn’t? How happy are your employees? Have you asked them lately? Being hyper-aware of industryhappenings and those within your own office will ensure that you and your company are staying relevant in a quickly changing landscape.

3. Do what you hate.

I know there are many people in the world who believe that once you become successful, you earn a free pass to get out of doing stuff you dislike. However, I believe that’s a huge detriment to you personally and professionally. An essential part of keeping yourself and your business fresh is by constantly challenging yourself. Do you avoid public speaking like the plague? Start volunteering to speak at meetings or at least make a point to get out of your inbox and communicate with your team more face-to-face. Can’t seem to get your computer files organized? Ask a detailed member of your team to help you create a new system or research a project management software.

Getting out of your comfort zone isn’t just good for your career, it’s good for your health, with a recent Harvard Health Publishing article finding that “challenging our brains — for example, by learning a new skill — leads to actual changes in the adult brain.”

So, what are you waiting for? Lengthen your life, raise your salary and change more lives by bidding your comfort zone farewell!