How to keep learning when you're your own boss - 5 tips
by Alex Shoobert, Wenta Business Advisor
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
― Henry Ford
Successful entrepreneurs know they need to keep up-to-date with the fast-changing world of business.
They are also constantly updating their skills and knowledge. But it can be hard to find time to do this when you are setting up and running your own business. You have to take ownership of your own training and development.
Here are five ways you can keep up-to-date and look after your own professional development:
1. Be selective
There is so much information available, particularly on-line, that it can be overwhelming. Having a clear strategy will help. Decide what your priorities are and what information is not essential. Take control of your updates on social media and email by unsubscribing; switching off alerts; setting up filters and using folders.
Make sure you are not getting distracted by looking at everything as it arrives. Never browse social media or the internet without a clear purpose in mind, it will waste your time and sap your energy.
2. Do a skills audit on yourself
Be honest with yourself about your knowledge and what your skills are. You are likely to have many transferable skills which you have gained from past employment and non-work activities.
Evaluate your skills in networking, time management and people management as well as your technical skills. Is there something you would like to improve?
Make sure you are not restricted by holding a limiting belief about yourself. Many of us tell ourselves things like ‘I am not really creative’ or ‘I am no good at sales’. These are often not true and can stop us from developing our skills. Challenge your beliefs about yourself and decide what you want to get better at.
3. Keep an eye on the bigger picture
When you start up a business you’ll do market analysis as part of your business plan. It is important to do this at regular intervals as things can change quickly. You need to know about any social trends as well as political, economic, legal and technological changes that can all impact on your business.
You also need to keep up-to-date with what your competitors are up to and the changing interests of your customers. Doing this will allow you to spot new opportunities and quickly react to any potential threats to your business.
4. Select the learning method that suits you best
Find a way of learning that you enjoy and that fits in with your life.
Some examples are formal qualifications, short training courses, listening to podcasts, on-line training, conferences and seminars, reading books or journals, networking and talking to a business coach or mentor.
Working from a shared office or incubator can also be a great way to meet other people from different disciplines and share your knowledge.
5. Set time aside
To make learning a priority you need to set time in your diary.
Think about what time of the week and day would be best for you to learn. You also need to choose a place where you can feel comfortable, away from distractions.
Changing locations is a good way to stimulate creativity. Perhaps you can even combine listening to a podcast whilst you take a walk or go to the gym.
By taking these simple steps towards learning and self-improvement, you can make sure you stay ahead of the competition. By taking ownership of your own learning and continually seeking ways to improve you are already on course for a healthier lifestyle and a healthier business.