No matter how much experience you have in your chosen field, no matter how long you spent gaining knowledge and skills to help you succeed as a business owner, there is plenty more to learn. Though continuing education is not required for entrepreneurs in the same way it is mandatory for professions like engineering and nursing, entrepreneurs who dedicate their time to learning tend to be better prepared to face the challenges of business ownership.
If you want to succeed in entrepreneurship, you need to find ways to improve yourself and your business. Here are a few ways to engage in continued learning without putting your entrepreneurship dreams on hold.
There is untold knowledge contained between covers at your local library, and much of that knowledge can directly impact your business. For example, “The Achievement Habit” by Dr. Bernie Roth will help you better identify underlying problems while “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius will help you develop a stronger will and faith in your ability.
You can find lists upon lists of books ideal for entrepreneurs – or you can follow your own literary interests. No matter what you read, you will learn important lessons that can facilitate better business. You should try to acquire reading as a destressing activity during your breaks and time off, so you can improve your business even when you aren’t on the clock.
Different businesses operate in different ways because they have different leaders imagining different solutions. You should take time to study the strategies of businesses different from yours to gain more insight into possible tactics for your business. Though many businesses are secretive about their plans, you should be able to find cases and approach analysis to study. Ideally, you should investigate businesses within or adjacent to your industry. By doing this, you will gain new perspectives on old problems.
Take Online Courses
Your schedule is likely to jam-packed and hectic to allow you to attend traditional classes in an on-campus university environment – but that doesn’t preclude you from seeking an advanced degree. Online education is more flexible, more accessible and more practical for busy entrepreneurs interested in bettering their skills and knowledge.
You can seek an online business management degree, which will increase your proficiency in management duties such as motivating a team and managing finances. You can also take courses unconnected to a degree program or seek specialized certificates to improve specific business skills, such as marketing or accounting. There is unending opportunity in online education, and you can get started in a course today.
Join a Group
There are all sorts of groups to support and improve small businesses and entrepreneurs. For example, you might consider joining the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, which connects you with over 10,000 peers, offers mentors and provides access to customized learning programs. There is also the Social Enterprise Alliance, the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship and dozens more. You should consider looking in your area for a local group to join – and if you don’t find anything, you might even consider setting up your own local organization.
Find a Mentor
Malcom Gladwell’s famous rule about 10,000 hours to mastery is a farce. In truth, the best way to become an expert is to obtain a reliable coach who will provide feedback and push your progress forward. For entrepreneurs, a coach is called a mentor, and it is usually someone who has already navigated entrepreneurship to establish a successful small business. As mentioned above, you can usually find a mentor through a small business organization, but you might also acquire a mentor through your network. It is important to find someone with whom you connect – not just the most prestigious person possible – so finding the right mentor might take time.
All conferences eventually devolve into networking events, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them if you try. A conference is merely a gathering of industry experts, and many of those experts are eager to talk shop. If you listen and ask the right questions, you can gain plenty of knowledge – and even some detailed solutions to your small business struggles.
Running a small business never stops being difficult, so entrepreneurs should always strive to improve. Fortunately, there is are never-ending opportunities for entrepreneurs to better themselves – and you should take advantage of one or more of these continued learning options soon.