Setting goals for your business is always a challenge, but setting personal goals as a business owner can be even harder when you’re pressed for time and focussed on drumming up new business.  Ian Dormer, Chairman of the Institute of Directors, writes on why he was determined to find the time to grow professionally and how this goal benefitted his business.

I am always short of time. If my business is booming, I’m chasing around looking after customers, staff and suppliers to make sure we do a good job. If business is quiet, I am chasing around trying to win work … and get back to position one.

In business we always set ourselves goals, be it to increase profits or launch a new product or service, or start exporting. The biggest challenge I faced in the last couple of years was to actually practice what I preached. When giving staff appraisals, I always want them to build additional training or qualifications into their personal development plan. But what about me?

I am a director. I have owned and run Rosh Engineering for 25 years. As a specialist contractor to the electricity supply industry we repair, refurbish, test and install power transformers the length and breadth of the UK and into northern Europe, with our team of 30 skilled staff. We have to focus on staff training as we work in a high hazard industry, dealing with 400,000 volt substations, nuclear and petrochemical plants. Investing in our staff has given us great benefits.

We have loyal customers, we are increasing profits and we are growing. So what more is there for me to learn? I’ve attended great conferences in the past, but I’ve never felt I had the time to spare (either professionally or domestically) to take on formal director-level training.

So it was a big decision to embark upon the IoD’s Certificate in Company Direction, taking a week out for an intensive residential course. It was exhausting but mind-blowing. It was not just how much I learned from tutors, but how much I gained from interaction with my fellow delegates.

The directors came from totally different fields, which meant the discussions, debate, and sharing of experiences was fantastic. The exam was tough, but I passed. More importantly, I learned a great deal and knew it would make me better at my job. I felt re-invigorated on return to work.

I then set my sights on the Diploma in Company Direction. My confidence was growing and I really felt the difference it was making in my day job. I was able to reflect better, think more strategically and plan the businesses development in a much more structured and measured way. I analysed problems and worked out solutions with more confidence.

This was not so much about me doing things wrong in the past, as being able to grow in confidence and do it better. A strange thing to admit in your late 40s.

Completing the IoD’s process through to becoming a Chartered Director was a natural progression. While nerve-racking to be quizzed by one’s peers on how I was applying a professional approach to my business, it all flashed by.

Continuing Professional Development is required to maintain my Chartered status. I do not look at this as a chore, as I have realised that setting the goal two years ago to be better at what I do through a formal process has really helped. Continuing that learning and development will benefit me and the business.

This year will be a record year for Rosh Engineering. While growing and expanding has plenty of challenges, I feel better prepared to take them on.

I am glad I set myself the goal that I set for my staff.

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