As a small business owner, you’re always learning: whether that’s getting to grips with an accounting software package, researching suppliers in your area or simply learning new and unexpected things about yourself as an entrepreneur. But as well as learning on the job, sometimes it’s helpful to bridge any gaps in your knowledge with a dedicated approach to learning a specific skill set.
Learning opportunities from the Internet
Opportunities to learn are all around you – and thanks to the internet, you don’t always have to take a few years out of running your business to complete a qualification. For instance, let’s say you’re building your business’ website and you don’t have the budget to pay a web developer, but you still want it to be powerful, responsive and professional-looking. For the princely sum of nothing at all, you can learn the fundamentals of HTML – the basic scripting language used to build websites – at Google’s Codeacademy.
It may not teach you everything you need to know about coding a website, but it’ll give you confidence in an unfamiliar topic and a springboard to start from: it’s that crucial difference between knowing a little about a subject, and knowing nothing at all. Not only does taking a couple of hours to complete the Codeacademy course in HTML set you up with some knowledge to build on, but also adds to your skill set in small – but significant – way.
Seminars, events and courses: The old reliable
It’s also worth looking at seminars, shows and talks for small business owners in your local area and beyond: it can be invaluable to hear from people in your situation who’ve had the benefit of years of experience, and it might just help you to avoid some of their mistakes. Check out the Guardian’s Small Business Network and events like Business Startup and pick out some topics you think you’d benefit from knowing more about – events like these are also great places to network and discuss ideas with like-minded people.
Of course, if you have the time and resources to invest in a full-length degree course, this can be extremely valuable. Depending on the nature of your company and the role you want to play in it, you might decide to go for a degree in business management, marketing or accountancy. As well as making new contacts, learning new skills and picking up a qualification, a degree can be a great opportunity to break new ground – for instance, Middlesex University’s International Business Management MA covers strategy, human resource management and multinational trade in a global context.
Gaining a qualification can also give you something to fall back on in case your business doesn’t pan out as planned: if you ever find yourself seeking employment again at some time in the future, you have both the life experience of running your own business and an internationally-recognised diploma to put on your CV.
Whether it’s from online guides, educational institutions or other business owners, there’s always something new to learn. Keep your eyes peeled and your mind receptive to opportunities to expand your knowledge – you never know when it could add value to your business.
About the Author: Alex Coulthard works as a Digital Marketer and is interested in brand development.