When you first start a business, it seems that every move you make is informed by new information you have either had to seek out or that has become apparent as you carry on with trying to start your business. After a while though, business owners can stop focusing on learning and get caught up in the day-to-day operation and running of their business.
Growth stalls or never really gets kicked into high gear because the demands of right now outweigh the energy needed to even think about the future. But if you want your business to continue to be successful, you are going to need to go back to a learning model. Here’s why learning should and needs to be a part of your overall growth strategy.
Small businesses excel when they can meet the day-to-day demands of running their business now, and can plan and execute on tasks that will help them grow in the future. This proves to be easier said than done for many business owners. With so much demand on their time right now, who has time to read a book or attend a professional development seminar?
It seems frivolous to take a day away from the office or store to attend another conference considering the money that may be lost – or costs incurred – as a result. Business owners don’t always have the luxury of choosing how they spend their time, despite popular misconception about what it’s really like to be a business owner. Even if you can’t attend all of the conferences, business development seminars, or read all the books, start with one.
Attend some kind of professional development seminar will help you step away from the business and come back to it with fresh eyes. Giving yourself a chance to collect new information about your business can help you see solutions to problems you didn’t know you had, or perhaps more likely, ones you’ve been trying to solve from within the parameters of your existing business. We need to step away from our operations sometimes to see what else is possible.
Learning is an integral part of success because as long as you continue to learn, there’s nothing you can’t handle in your business. Whether you run a small operation or a large enterprise, business owners who continue to learn have power and confidence that others lack. Just the act of setting out to learn something opens you up to tremendous ideas and potential that you can take back to your office and use in a way that makes sense for you.
Growth requires a lot of stamina and planning. That stamina can break down when you are hitting roadblocks in your journey. Without new and insightful information to use, you run out of ideas pretty fast. Our world is always changing and business changes just as quickly. Without staying current with what is going on in your industry, without looking at alternative software, suppliers, locations, exporting, and more, you might run the risk of losing your business or at least, losing a great deal of the market share.
But learning also helps you become a better business owner and person, over all. People who make time for learning tend to be more open-minded, flexible, respectful of the opinions of others, and able to adapt more quickly. Because learning is a tool, you can employ it on an as-needed basis and call upon it as you need in order to move yourself and your business forward.
But that’s just the beginning. Providing learning opportunities for your staff also provides a high return on your investment. When you encourage employees to learn new things, your business benefits many times over. Rather than try to solve all the problems yourself, including your staff and encouraging them to seek new information and insight about an issue means that you have multiple brains sifting through even more information that could help you dominate your industry and beyond.
The process of learning can be slow, but that’s not a bad thing. Nobody said running a business was going to be easy and certainly it doesn’t just come out of nowhere overnight. It takes time to figure out what you lack and where you need to fill in the gaps. Including learning as part of your growth strategy should be a high priority for any business operation.
Without new information, you run the risk of being left behind, offering stale products, and pushing boring services. Learning opens doors beyond what you see in front of you and helps you connect with the tools and resources you need to be successful.
If there’s something you don’t know how to do and your business will benefit from doing it, learn it. Or assign a member of your team to find out the vital information. Get in the habit of sharing new information with colleagues and employees and ask for insight from them in order to grow the learning circle and keep everyone in the loop about what’s hot, what’s not, and where you are going.
In fact, if you aren’t sure how to put together a growth strategy, make learning your top priority and you’ll soon see that there’s nothing you and your business can’t do, so long as you are willing to go out and find the information you need.