What is the most important investment we can make? (column) | VailDaily.com

What is the most important investment we can make? (column)

Michael Norton

Throughout the year the community is always so responsive to this column, and I really do appreciate you all so much and I am also grateful for all of the emails and questions that come in each week. As I have shared before, many of those emails and questions become the inspiration for this column, so thank you all and please keep those emails and questions coming.

One of the questions that comes in frequently, especially around this time of year as people prepare to make changes or improve personally or professionally, is this, "I am looking to possibly make some changes and take my company to the next level, what is the best investment I can make to help grow my business?"

There are so many possible ways to answer this question. And in each situation, I would ask more questions to uncover more about the business, research the industry, and ask about available resources, priorities, initiatives, products, services, the overall strategy, marketing and advertising campaigns and the goals and objectives as well as what is driving those goals and objectives.

But the one area that I find more often than any other, and the place where significant gains can be made in any company, is the people. The greatest investment that anybody or any business can make to see improvements in performance is an investment in themselves and in their people.

Whether you are trying to grow a business, get yourself in shape, break a bad habit, elevate morale, eliminate complacency, improve employee retention, expand market share, increase profitability, change the culture or anything else that you are hoping to expand, improve, or increase, anything else at all where you are trying to move the needle in a positive direction, the very best investment that you can make is an investment in yourself and in your people.

Many of the questions have come from entrepreneurs who have built a great business on their passion but never really knew how to manage or lead others. An investment in management training or some level of executive coaching for themselves would go such a long way. The sales person who has done well but is not making the numbers they or their company really need them to make, without a doubt an investment in a personal development program or sales training program is an investment they can make for themselves or the company should make for them.

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The emails I receive come from people in human resources or company administrators, too. Many times, investments in people or staff seems to go toward the sales people or revenue generating personnel. What about the customer care teams, the product teams, accounting, operations and everyone else? Every team member deserves an investment in training and an opportunity to participate in the success of the company and improve the morale and attitude as well. And investments aren't just about money, are they? Investments in people include gratitude and appreciation, communication, collaboration and making everyone feel like they are a part of the team and the success of the organization.

An investment in ourselves is not just about business, either. We need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of anyone else. Too often people miss this opportunity. Instead of investing in themselves they let stress, work, to-do lists and being on the go dictate their schedules. If this is you, then stop it. Stop and take the time for you. What is it you really want to be, do, or have? An investment in ourselves is the ultimate productivity vehicle.

What does an investment in ourselves look like? Well, it could be a gym membership or a membership in a massage program. It could be a personal coach. Many times people think coaches are only for athletes or business people, but personal coaches are a great place to start. You could enroll in a seminar or training program. Make an investment in time to read, write, think, meditate, pray, or just walk. But scheduled and focused "me" time is essential to true growth. An investment in a college class, a cooking class, a dance class or in any other hobby or passion that we might have also inspires growth and creativity.

Do you want to grow personally or professionally? Do you want to see your company grow? I have a very simple solution for you, a personal recommendation for you: Invest in yourself and in your people.

How about you? Are you right where you want to be, or do you wrestle with the same question about where to make the best investment to grow yourself or your business? Either way I would love to hear your questions and your story at my email, gotonorton@gmail.com. And when we remember to make the right investments in both our personal and our professional life, it really will be a better-than-good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.