When I started my small business, I was fairly confident I didn’t know it all, but I wasn’t aware yet what my strengths and weaknesses would be as a business owner. I didn’t know what situations would cause me to draw a blank and which would catch me by surprise.
It took just a handful of experiences to realize where my background, experience and education were lacking. I am a learner by nature and have never been afraid to ask questions. I knew the key to any success would be to seek opportunities for continuing my education. Fortunately, there are a number of ways small business owners can obtain training related to their field.
There are many websites that provide online business training. The U.S. Small Business Administration, for example, has a variety of resources for small business training, including free online, self-paced classes, local offices and in-class workshops. You can also choose from web chats or podcasts, and can even connect with a mentor for one-on-one training about a topic of most interest to you.
I’ve always been one to “hit the books” when I want to learn something new. For me, books allow a solid, stable resource for information that I can return to time and again (and highlight, underline, and dog-ear) when needed.
A quick Internet search of “must read business books” provides a vast and varied place for any small business owner to begin. There are also a number of free eBooks on small business that are available online for immediate download.
What I love about learning from colleagues and mentors on Twitter is that the conversation can be so casual, yet often rich with information. People posts links to fantastic articles, reports, fact sheets, and even op ed pieces on a particular topic.
With a careful search of experts in your field, you can quickly start interacting with a fabulous panel of people, ask questions, give feedback, and more. It’s a perfect real-time learning environment.
Perhaps the costliest of any suggestion I’ve given here, I still believe industry conferences are worth the time and expense. The opportunity to meet face-to-face with other professionals you’ve either only heard of or just know online can be incredibly valuable.
Conference workshops and panels can also give you just what you need to stoke your creativity and inspire action. And sometimes getting outside of your own work environment and entering a conference atmosphere, can put your mind in a different place to receive fresh visions and renewed passion for your business.
In the end, the only way to grow your small business is to find opportunities to learn, and those opportunities come in a number of formats. Whether you learn best in a classroom setting, succeed at being self-taught, lean on the wisdom of others, or like to put yourself in an intense learning environment, small business owners have a variety of places to look for knowledge and guidance.
What about you? Where do you turn for small business training and education?
Image credit: jsliwinski