As a small business owner, you wear many different hats and are doing whatever it takes to help your company and team succeed. Given the hectic schedule and irregular hours, thinking about taking classes or seminars to further your education can be difficult — let alone finding the time to actually take them.
Although learning something new may seem daunting, the reward goes far beyond personal growth. In fact, furthering your education can benefit your employees, business, and brain. Here are five ways every small business owner can benefit from continued education.
1. Continued education can fit your time and budget.
There is a stigma in the business world that any continued education worth getting includes high-priced seminars or a full-fledged MBA program at a top business school. However, a number of free online courses can be completed in a few hours a week, including those through edX, Coursera, and the US Small Business Administration. If you're looking for actual face time with instructors and classmates, be on the lookout for free seminars and guest speaking sessions sponsored by local small-business alliances.
2. It can eliminate one-track thinking.
According to a 2014 study by the Apollo Education Group, 70% of senior executives are concerned about the availability of key skills needed for their professional growth. If you’re looking to boost your out-of-the-box thinking, try taking a step outside of your business. Learning how others have found more efficient ways to complete tasks, picked up new skills, and expanded their businesses can get you thinking about your own company in new ways.
3. You can expand your network.
More than half of all US small businesses are based out of their owners’ homes. Despite being financially responsible, this often leads to limited networking opportunities. If you don't work in a busy office building on a town’s main street or in a collaborative co-working space, you can often go weeks without meeting new contacts.
Don’t limit the idea of expanding your network to places like stuffy networking events with awkward name tags and light hors d'oeuvres. Whether in a classroom or online, your educator is likely someone who has forged valuable contacts in the industry. And your classmates can also become a significant part of your network as well — as sounding boards for ideas, potential business partners for future endeavors, or even strategic new hires.
4. You will be able to better relate to your employees.
Do you run a tech startup but feel clueless when talking to non-engineering employees? Trying to relate to everyone across your company isn’t easy. But this is where quick, introductory educational classes can come in handy. Investing in a marketing seminar or sales webcast can change how you connect with employees in departments outside your educational background. Get a better understanding of what your employees face each day, and find ways to present new ideas to them with ease.
5. You'll learn about new tools, skills, and techniques.
Chances are you’re still using most of the same technology as the day you opened up shop. We’re creatures of habit, after all. Once you and your employees learn a program or process, trying to learn something new can become a huge undertaking. Simply sticking to what you know could have lasting effects on your customer base and competitive outlook.
In fact, among companies with a recognized skill shortage, 66% expect to lose business to competitors and 59% say they're facing eroding customer satisfaction. Simple webinars can introduce you to the best ways to use a new version of a software you’ve purchased. If you’re really interested in a product, it may be worth scheduling a demo with a sales associate who can teach you how to get ahead of the competition.
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Source: Business Insider