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Why business owners need to embrace lifelong learning

Do you feel that with all the responsibilities and tasks you already have on your plate, there is no time or energy left to learn new skills?

Adopting a ‘growth mindset’ — believing that your basic abilities are not fixed, and committing to learning and developing over time — is an important attribute for entrepreneurs as well as employees. People with a growth mindset prioritise lifelong learning so that they can consistently develop new and useful skills.

How lifelong learning benefits your business

The needs of your business can change over time. As a business owner, you can always ‘buy in’ additional advice and services from professionals including accountants, lawyers and consultants. In fact, it is advisable to do so for highly technical areas. However, there are many other business needs you could potentially meet yourself, if you develop the right skills and knowledge. These can include learning how to effectively use social media, understand your business financials, and write a business plan.

In a constantly evolving environment, business owners who commit to learning new skills will be better able to adapt to change and keep their business going in challenging conditions. Skills development is also important to many employees and offering these sorts of opportunities can help you retain good employees for longer, as they grow with your business.

What sort of learning is available to small businesses?

With business information readily available these days, there are many affordable ways to learn such as reading books and online articles, watching videos or listening to podcasts. For those who prefer to be instructed directly and learn with others, there are also short courses and workshops. At the other end of the spectrum, there are longer, more formal courses such certificates and diplomas offered by universities and other learning providers.

With a focus on keeping costs under control in a turbulent economy, there is significant demand for free and low cost learning opportunities for small business owners.

The rise of the internet and the social distancing changes due to COVID-19 has resulted in an increase in demand (and supply) of online courses and webinars. Learning this way enables students to participate in skills development from the comfort of their own home or office, while accessing subject matter experts who can answer questions and provide insight into topics. We offer a wide range of free skills-building online workshops as part of our support for small business owners in Western Australia. The interactive sessions are designed both for new and established business owners who want to add to their skills.

Organisations including chambers of commerce and industry and networking groups also frequently organise affordable business skills courses. The best way to stay informed of upcoming courses is to sign up for e-news updates and follow organisations that deliver training on social media.

What types of training should you do?

The best type of training for your business is a topic that addresses the specific situations that you encounter. Considering how you will apply and practice what you learn is essential to making sure the time and money you invest is worthwhile. Many people find they learn most effectively through hands-on opportunities, so it’s useful to plan to put your new skills into practice before they are forgotten.

To decide what training you or your employees need to do for your business, ask yourself:

  • What am I trying to achieve for my business?
  • What are the gaps in knowledge or skills that are holding my business back?
  • What tasks could I cost effectively do myself in my business instead of outsourcing, if I had the skills?
  • What am I interested in or inspired to learn more about, that I could apply to improving my business?

More information

See our upcoming skills building workshops available free of charge.

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