My 9-year-old daughter recently came to me with a business idea: she wants to start a summer camp for girls. Since I learned a ton about building my business by reading (and, of course, by doing!), I’ve guided my daughter toward some helpful resources and encouraged her to write down her ideas, consider some logistics and crunch a basic budget to form a business plan. As I watch her think, plan and dream, I know my girl is exploring independent learning that is crucial for realizing her entrepreneurial vision.
This experience got me thinking about the whole process of learning how to be an entrepreneur. It’s something we’re all doing, each and every day. In fact, being a business owner is a non-stop process of learning, understanding, absorbing and analyzing. From the get-go, we’re developing and honing our practical business knowledge by learning from other business owners, tracking market- and consumer changes and self-educating through courses, workshops and conferences.
There’s no end to the opportunities and resources for learning and growing as an entrepreneur (if only there were more hours in every day we could devote to it!). So it’s no surprise to me that our QuickBooks Community members are experts in figuring out what they need to know and then how and where they can best learn it.
Here’s just a sample of what our members are sharing about this important topic.
The burning question: How do you self-educate?
QB Community member @MariaHarmon got the conversation started by asking, “How do you self-educate?” -- and, wow, did she get a lot of responses! From online courses to good old-fashioned library visits, members told us about the many ways you can (and should) keep educating yourself as an entrepreneur.
Learn from other self-employed folks
Learning from others who have been there, done that can save you time and, often, headaches. One key insight is finding out what other entrepreneurs would have done differently if they could start over. Or you can discover valuable local resources for your business. For example, @Chuck_HomanII recommends joining “the trade association for your industry to take advantage of the available educational and networking opportunities … and meeting people who are successful in your industry and are willing to share their knowledge with you.”
Member @QcFinancial said that nothing compares to exchanging ideas with her peers and colleagues in our QuickBooks Community. “There’s no better way to learn how to be better than to watch and listen to someone that has the experience and the know how.” For her part, @tamalita says she is all about networking “with real life colleagues and with virtual colleagues” to help her build her community and connections.
Attend classes online or IRL
The wealth of knowledge on the internet runs the gamut from understanding how to solve a math equation at KhanAcademy.com to earning an online MBA. You can audit or enroll in classes from Harvard, MIT or Berkeley at edX.org or pay to “attend” Lynda.com courses featuring in-demand job skills. And the U.S. SBA Learning Center offers classes designed specifically for small business owners who are “planning, launching, managing or growing” their business.
Sometimes the best way to learn is to teach someone what you already know. Our own @SteveChase tells us he learns by teaching QBO classes in his community.
Take advantage of your library
These days, says @Kate_Lynch, libraries offer so much more than books. “Many people don't realize the resources, events and tools there. Just go in and and ask them about all the adult programs they offer, and you'll be blown away.” Another library user, @BethD, adds, “Since starting my business a year ago, I've read a lot of books from the library, but I joined Toastmasters at the same time. This gave me a place to practice presentations as well as other things that I've learned from books.”
Thanks, everyone, for all the great posts! You can read all the responses to @MariaHarmon’s great question about self-educating right here -- then chime in with your own tips and tricks for boosting your independent learning.
Speaking of independence, this month we’ll be exploring the theme with a new series called “Going Indie.” We’ll meet entrepreneurs who quit working for someone else and learned how to run their own show instead. We’ll ask a self-employed American living in Croatia if the freedom to live anywhere truly lives up to the fantasy. We’ll speak about independent retail trends with the editor of, you guessed it, IndependentRetailer.com. For those of you looking for yet another opportunity for independent learning, we’ve compiled a list of some of our key articles created to help you start, build and grow your business like a pro -- I think it’s the perfect summer reading list!
As you ooh-aah at the fireworks this Independence Day, don’t forget to give a rousing cheer for yourself -- as you keep on doing your own amazing, independent thing.
P.S. July is National Fear of Public Speaking month (yes, really). So if you suffer to any degree from “glossophobia,” stay tuned. We’ll be sharing many super helpful tips and tricks from some of our favorite public speaking pros!