For most people, launching a business is a hard series of lessons in learning what you don’t know. Of course, once you know what you don’t know, it becomes a question of how you can improve your business knowledge. Keep reading for some tried and true sources of business knowledge you can lean on.
Find Someone to Guide You
Business mentor relationships can range from fairly formal to very informal. For example, some businesses will intentionally pair a younger hire with a more experienced supervisor or manager. In other cases, you can offer to take another business person out to lunch a couple of times a month to pick their brain. A middle ground is finding a mentor through a business organization such as SCORE or a Small Business Development Center.
Another option is business coaching. A business coach fills many of the same functions as a mentor. They offer you the benefits of their experience, help you devise strategies, and can serve as an impartial sounding board. Good business coaches also look for ways they can help you improve performance in your weak areas.
Entrepreneurs can come from all walks of life. That means they often lack formal education in business, although many hold degrees in other fields. While a business degree isn’t mandatory, some business courses can go a long way to smoothing the rough edges of your business ownership experience.
You can look for online courses in everything from business accounting and digital marketing to project management and graphic design. At the very least, you should get up to speed on bookkeeping. If a degree holds a lot of personal value to you, you can also pursue an MBA.
Podcasts and Audiobooks
Business podcasts and audiobooks can prove a godsend for the busy business owner. There are podcasts and audiobooks on just about any business topic you want to learn about. You can find ones about those all-essential financial skills, startups, minority-owned businesses, and every flavor of marketing.
What makes these such valuable resources is that you can listen to them while you do other things. For example, that commute to work is a great time to digest some wisdom. If you take lunch alone, you can listen while you eat your meal.
If you prefer reading to listening, you can carve out a little time in your day for books. Again, you can find books that focus on broad business concerns like leadership, right down to super-niche topics like personal productivity for business owners.
Books also offer the advantage that you can jot down notes or insights in the margins. You can also add bookmarks at key spots in the text with post-it notes. That makes those spots easier to find when you want to refer to them later.
Even with the pandemic still putting the nix on a lot of large, in-person events, there are still lots of remote business events that help you burnish your knowledge. For example, there are digital conferences and seminars with speakers and Zoom meetups for networking.
These are often good ways to pick up information about specific topics you care about. Things like Zoom meetups are also a good way to burnish your communication skills. If you’re on the call, odds are good that someone is going to ask you a question at some point.
Business and Industry Publications
Business magazines and industry publications, such as newsletters, are a great way to see how a business operates on a large scale. At the same time, you often find in-depth profiles of other business owners either in your industry or at a similar stage of development. Reading about their experiences can shed light on your own.
Industry publications give you an insider look at how your industry operates. They usually draw attention to trends that will affect the whole industry. These insights can help your prepare for coming problems or take advantage of new opportunities.
Improving your business knowledge isn’t something you do once and move on. It’s an ongoing process you’ll pursue your entire career. Pay special attention to technology trends and advancement. Those can upend an industry almost overnight if you’re not paying attention. Lean into self-education because that will provide you with the most flexibility in improving your business knowledge.