Continuous learning paves the way to knowledge and skills that help small business owners reach their goals. While acquiring critical thinking skills and discovering new ways of relating to people make it easier to manage the inevitable changes that are part of running a business, keeping up to date with the latest trends and technologies will ensure that your business stays relevant.
Here are seven ways you can continue learning as a small business owner.
1. Make Reading a Priority
Some of the busiest and most successful business leaders say that making the time to read every day:
- Helps them build up critical knowledge over time (Warren Buffet)
- Allows them to test their understanding (Bill Gates)
- Gives them a level of comfort and confidence in their business (Mark Cuban)
From business blogs and online magazines, to inspirational books penned by prominent business professionals, there’s no shortage of reading material available to help you prosper as an entrepreneur.
2. Tune in to the Experts
Podcasts, audio books, and TED Talks are ideal for business owners who prefer to learn by listening – or for times when you can’t fit that daily dose of reading into your schedule. Tune in to the experts on your favourite device for timely, relevant advice on everything from avoiding common business mistakes, to communicating effectively with others.
3. Take Advantage of Online Courses
Flexible online learning is perfect for small business owners. Not only can you pick away at a new topic at your own pace, many online courses are free – including those offered by top-notch educational facilities like The Open University, UC Berkeley, and the University of Toronto. If you’re more of a visual learner, sites like LinkedIn and Udemy offer online video courses and tutorials to help you master many common business challenges.
4. Build Out a Network
It’s well worth taking the time to reach out and stay connected to a network of experts in multiple fields. Not only can a well-rounded panel serve as a go-to source of information when you have questions about a specific topic or industry, you may find an opportunity to educate someone else in return. And learning by teaching has proven to be extremely effective.
5. Join a Small Business Association
Small business associations offer more than just the opportunity to network and share knowledge with other entrepreneurs. They’re frequently a source of:
- Industry publications
- Business templates and tools
- Marketing statistics and research on new products and services
Getting involved with one or more associations, including your local or federal chamber of commerce, can accelerate both your personal and professional growth.
6. Find a Business Mentor
Learning by doing is probably the most effective way to gain knowledge that sticks. A close second is the opportunity to learn from someone else’s experience.
Business mentorships often happen organically, but you can also take a proactive approach with the help of:
- Networking channels
- Cold outreach messaging
- Professional mentoring programs
Finding a mentor who’s successfully navigated a similar path will give you priceless access to hard-won lessons learned. Yet a true mentor won’t charge you for their time or advice.
7. Seek Out Business Seminars
Understanding multiple workplace roles is essential for running a successful business. Professional seminars are a great way to get an overview of a comprehensive topic, like email marketing for example, or put one in better perspective as it pertains to your business. If attending in person isn’t an option, you’ll find many live and pre-recorded seminars, workshops, and webinars online.
Continuing to learn as a small business owner won’t just allow you to expand and adapt your current skillset, it will help you feel more confident when stepping outside your comfort zone to develop future business opportunities.