One of the best things you can do for your career, or for your business, is to develop your best asset. But what is your best asset? I submit that your best asset is…you! No one else can do what you do. In a career, it’s up to you to show your value. When you ask for a raise, you need to show that you have the skills and the experience to warrant higher pay. If you are starting your own business it is even more important that you develop yourself.

Education

Best ways to develop yourself is to make sure that you have a good education. I’m not talking just about a college education, although in some cases a degree can be very helpful. The key is to find out what you need to learn. Whether it’s learn about how money works, getting solid information on best business practices, or educating yourself about the industry in which you want to work, knowledge really is power.

It is also important to learn from past experiences and mistakes. In some cases, life is a great educator. Be alert for opportunities to keep reading. There are a number of community education classes, university courses of study, books and real world experiences that can provide you with the knowledge you need to improve yourself. Keep learning, and you will find that you are more likely to improve your earning power, especially if you own your own business.

Develop Skills

It is also important to develop practical and marketable skills. If you want to advance in your career, think about what skills would make you a more valuable asset. Would knowing another computer language help you as a programmer? Would taking the time to improve your interpersonal skills improve your ability to work as a salesperson?

When you own your own business, there are a number of skills that you should develop. Written and oral communication skills are good to have, and if you plan to sell online, some basic technology skills are vital. Another valuable skill to have is the ability to effectively network. Understand what skill sets are valued in your industry, and work toward developing those.

Working with Others

Sometimes, it can help to find a mentor. Work with someone you admire to develop the characteristics and skills they have. Look for ways to emulate someone you want to be like. Ask questions, and get some pointers. A mentor can help you more efficiently direct your efforts so that you are more likely to be successful.

It is also a good idea to give back. If you have been getting help from a mentor, remember that at some point you might need to return the favor. Develop yourself as someone others want to approach for help, and you can build a reputation as an “expert” — not to mention being viewed as someone willing to help. This doesn’t mean that you have to give everything away for free, but it does mean that you need to be willing to share some of your time and expertise with those who are in the same position you were not too long ago.

What other ways can you develop yourself to truly be your own best asset?