Becoming an entrepreneur is a chance to be your own boss – but that doesn’t mean you should stop listening to other people. In fact, the best entrepreneurs are constantly seeking other’s advice and tapping into other people’s knowledge. By constantly absorbing new information, you can keep improving your business model and you can constantly win over more customers. Here are just several ways in which you should be educating yourself as an entrepreneur.
Take a course
Going self-employed means that you don’t need to meet anyone else’s job requirements. However, that’s no reason to not still consider an education. You could learn things by taking a course that are essential to your line of work. You may also gain the respect of employees and clients by having qualifications under your belt.
Many courses nowadays such as this one https://online.wlu.ca/diploma-emergency-management can be studied online. If your business is already up and running, this could allow you to still pursue and education by having the freedom to study around your job. When choosing a course, it’s important to pick one that meets your needs. Always read reviews by previous students so that you can get an idea if a course is likely to be valuable – if most students give glowing reviews, you know that you’re getting a valuable education.
Attend workshops and seminars
Workshops and seminars can also be good sources of knowledge. You may not get qualifications from them, but they could still teach you key skills.
Most workshops are centered around specific business topics such as this Excel workshop: https://skillpath.com/seminar/two-day-workshop-on-advanced-microsoft-excel-techniques. Always check that they are being taught by experts – whilst you need to be qualified to teach a course, anyone can host a seminar or workshop, and so background research is useful to ensure that their advice is credible.
A lot of business owners also hire professional advisors. This can be useful when seeking out personalised and specific information. Most advisors pay by the hour whilst others can be constantly on call in exchange for a monthly service fee. Free advice can be found, but generally you won’t get as in-depth advice without being prepared to spend some money. Commonly hired professional advisors include financial advisors, legal advisors, IT consultants and HR consultants.
When hiring advisors, you should always check their credentials online to confirm that they truly are experts. Most advisors will have testimonials available online on their site. Look out for awards and badges that show they’re part of a professional body – these can be good signs that an advisor is a certified expert.
Read books and blogs
You can also learn a lot by reading. There is plenty of written advice out there in the form of books and blogs. Such advice can be digested in your own time and referred back to when you need it.
Not all books are likely to be reliable sources of advice, so it’s always good to research the author and check the date (anything written more than a decade ago may no longer be relevant – although there are exceptions in which advice is more universal). You may also want to read reviews to get an idea what other readers think. There are curated lists online that can point you in the direction of top-rated business books such as this one https://www.ryrob.com/best-business-books/.
Learn from your customers
Your customers can also help to educate you. They are your main source of market research – by listening to what they have to say, you can learn more about the way your customers think and how to tap into this thought process to encourage more like-minded customers.
There are many ways in which you can seek advice from customers. Online consumer reviews may be able to offer some interesting insights. You can also ask for private feedback from customers to help get an idea of what you’re going well and what you’re doing not so well – customer feedback forms are a common way of collecting this feedback.
You may even be able to learn things simply by looking at customer analytic data. CRM software is commonly used for this purpose, whilst there are a number of marketing tools that you can use such as Google analytics.
Learn from your competitors
You can also educate yourself by keeping tabs on your competitors. By seeing what tactics they are using, you can borrow elements and find other ways to distinguish yourself from them. You may also be able to learn from your competitors’ failures and successes – if a tactic that they use doesn’t work out, you know not to use it yourself.
Competitor research can be done by following your competitors closely online and keeping track of news within your industry. There are also companies dedicated to helping you with competitor research as found at sites such as https://www.plimsoll.co.uk. Be careful of directly copying competitors, as you could find yourself facing a lawsuit if they find out.
Learn from your employees
It’s also possible to learn new things from your employees. In fact, some of the most resourceful employers deliberately hire employees who can bring new skills to the company – this could include new expertise.
Make sure to hold regular meetings with employees and encourage feedback and discussion. Your employees may be able to give input that could be insightful to key decisions within your business. Try not to see their advice as a threat to your authority – being an employer doesn’t mean that you have to know more than all your employees.