For most business owners, personal development is all about becoming better at the job and gaining confidence in their own ability to handle various situations. But there is an increasing need for personal development to meet new statutory requirements.
The government has out a lot of emphasis on the need for improved quality at all levels of business. Its new laws on corporate manslaughter (where individuals can now be prosecuted for the deaths of employees and members of the public in their charge) is just one example of where individuals are being forced to take responsibility.
Mark Redfern, a director of training company Searchlight Solutions, has seen increased demand for senior management training to keep abreast with the new legislation.
"There is a lot of demand for employment training and people are having to become very well versed on the legal side and to keep up to date with legislation and forthcoming legislation, for example, the Companies Act, the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act."
Redfern says Searchlight tries to address problems before they arise so that trainees are in the best position to manage their businesses correctly. His company has launched a specialist executive training programme in response to demand from industry.
As an owner-manager of a small operation, such courses may be hard to justify but there are external options too. Professional director Martin Pedler has strong views on the need for better quality directors and believes the recent legislation on corporate manslaughter in particular will give a wake-up call to the nation's bosses.
"I think people have a fear factor about what they are taking in. It will not be long before the first corporate manslaughter case is taken against an individual rather than a company. It will set the cat amongst the pigeons," he said.
Pedler added that ignorance will be no defence for directors who have not kept a close eye on what is happening within their businesses and could land them in jail.
He believes that the first custodial sentence meted out will launch a surge in demand for greater training among directors. The same rules will apply to owner-managers and will put great pressure on all bosses to adhere strictly to health and safety regulations. If companies and directors can show they have tried to maintain proper standards the courts will have no grounds for conviction but cutting corners or non-compliance in any way will open the way for a conviction.
Corporate manslaughter rules are not the only area that has been tightened up in terms of director responsibility. Many industries are experiencing calls for better quality and greater responsibility towards the consumer.
The insurance sector, for example, has established its own self-governing watchdog but late last year the government announced plans for the whole sector to come under the rule of the Financial Services Authority. One of the expected consequences is that industry pundits believe greater numbers will have to hold recognisable qualifications.
Experience alone will not be enough to convince regulators that you are fit to run the business, you will need qualifications too. Insurance is not alone in this type of development - and it's something that could stop you operating your own business in the future.