“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears and never regrets.” – Leonardo da Vinci.
This is just one of many quotes from great leaders and thinkers who value continuous learning. No one can truly believe they know it all, no matter how successful they are, and not in a world that changes so quickly. Even in the simplest of industries, the business model needs to change from time to time, and this can only be achieved through reflection and learning.
Our customers’ needs keep changing as well. The way we deliver products and services changes, and the infrastructure we use to support businesses has evolved beyond recognition. Most of these changes drive efficiency for businesses, but can also reduce the need for people or particular supplies (for example, paper-based), making other industries obsolete.
Some people find the thought of education scary, maybe after a poor experience with traditional schools and universities. But this isn’t algebra or the periodic table. Learning about business technology or new ways of doing things will have a direct impact on your fulfilment, lifestyle and financial health. And there is so much out there, no matter your budget.
Find your personal learning style
First try to identify your preferred style of learning. Do you like someone to show you step by step how to do something, or do you prefer to figure it out for yourself? Do you like to watch presentations and videos, or are you a reader?
Books are great places to start, but if you don’t enjoy reading you may find shorter snippets and more interaction easier to absorb. Ebooks offer short topics for a low cost or are often free, while forums and chat rooms allow you to ask questions and get advice from others in your situation.
YouTube has great ‘how to’ content for free, while many technology products have extensive help areas and live chat functions.
Online structured programs on particular topics are a step up in terms of quality and price, and may include a combination of written, aural and visual content, interactive activities to work through and practical tips.
Finally, face-to-face learning in groups or one-on-one training will usually be the most expensive but also of greatest value to you, being tailored to your own needs and introducing you to people in similar situations.
Know your valuable learning areas
Starting with one piece of educational content can lead to many other forms of learning, as most will recommend further sources. You will find there are some topics that are continual sources of learning, while others will require only a surface awareness. Learning shouldn’t be about doing everything yourself, but instead it should teach you to know when you have hit an area that requires expert advice, such as tax law.
Some skills never go out of date and will see you through many challenging situations. Leadership skills are always important, and particularly the ability to lead through a period of change. Presentation skills and powerful communication in general are also timeless, as are time management and goal setting.
Basic financial skills are key to understanding the performance of your business. Accounting software, such as QuickBooks Online, can take away the need to manually reconcile every receipt and bank statement, inputting data efficiently. But you will need to be able to interpret the outputs, such as management reports, to help drive your business in the right direction.
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