Have you ever noticed just how much store larger firms place in continual professional development?

The best firms invest ceaselessly in their employees, putting them on training courses, hiring in consultants to provide workshops and encouraging every employee to have training needs analyses and career development pathways. This focus on training may seem strange when you first consider it, as in essence companies are running a risk when they upskill their employees.

Catpreneur the ongoing learner
photo credit: Found Animals Foundation

If staff get too skilled in their role, or learn new accomplishments which may result in their getting promotion, they are more likely to be able to market themselves to other firms and could potentially leave and bolster the competition. So why is it that career-long learning is viewed so favourably in successful organisations and what can we take from this approach to develop our own success in our chosen field of business?

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No matter what industry we work in, one thing is always true. The industry will evolve, develop and change as new technologies, initiatives and ideas for best practice emerge. Whether you work in health or medicine, IT or chemistry, engineering or mechanics, you can always guarantee that the passing of each year will lead to more and more new innovations which replace past thinking and transform the way the industry works. Take the mobile phone industry, for example – a few years ago, it would have been inconceivable just how widespread the use of mobiles would become, and today’s touch screen phones with apps and high-tech abilities are a far cry from the original brick-like devices people used to carry around on their shoulder.

Imagine if you worked in the field of telecommunications and failed to keep abreast of how new technology was shaping the future of your industry? As new developments came in to play, your knowledge would gradually become obsolete until you would no longer be able to hold your own in your chosen industry.

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The reason why firms set so much value on ongoing learning is primarily because of this constant evolution across industry. Every day, new papers are published which shake up the existing order of things, presenting new concepts, ideas and thoughts for how to enhance each industry and develop products and services. Without staying abreast of this constant evolution, firms would quickly lose their competitive edge, as those around them embraced new changes and evolved to meet the changing needs of their customers. Similarly, unless employees are encouraged to learn about new ways of doing things, companies will be unable to harness efficiencies and achieve the evolution necessary to make positive changes.

Ongoing learning
Ongoing learning enables entrepreneurs to stay on top of the changes in the industry

When we run our own business, this ongoing learning becomes more critical than ever before. Rather than being able to rely upon the learning framework of an organisation, it is up to the savvy entrepreneur to ensure that their choice of training course, reading of white papers or accessing of newly published information helps to keep them ahead of the game. This means not just understanding the way that trends in a chosen industry are headed, but also making sure that you have enough knowledge and skill to be able to meet those trends and give your customers what they require.

This is why ongoing learning is essential, not just within larger firms but for you as an entrepreneur and business owner.

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Without having the skills and knowledge to outstrip your competitors through sound industry understanding, you won’t be able to maintain the edge when it comes to product development, service enhancements or industry understanding. Set apart some time every week to keep your learning going and your knowledge and skills fresh. Look online, go on courses, access training and stay ahead of key publications, and you’ll ensure that you have the foresight and business acumen to make your business flourish and keep it sustainable long in to the future.

How do you make sure that you’re on top in your chosen industry? Please share your tips!