This is the first post in a three-part series on learning new skills to boost your business success.
As small business owners and entrepreneurs, we all know the benefits of expanding our skill set. More clientele, healthier revenues, shorter hours at the office—they’re on everyone’s wish list right?
That doesn’t mean, though, we’re eager to add the task of learning new skills to our daily haul of responsibilities. Bills to pay, product labels to design, employee payroll to sort out, and add to that training and education? Thanks, but no thanks.
We won’t sit here and simply tell you continuous learning is the way of the world so get on with it, blah, blah, blah… It’s more useful to have some solid ways to sustain your motivation levels to absorb the skills that can make your business thrive.
Here are five tips to stay the course of learning as a small business owner or entrepreneur.
Remember your why
Reminding yourself of the ‘why’ behind your educational endeavours is so important to your follow through. That’s because humans are, for the most part, wired for instant gratification.
You see a pair of jeans you like. You try it on. It fits well and the price is right. The store gets a sale and you get a pair of jeans you probably didn’t need. No delayed gratification there!
It’s a completely human reaction to want an immediate reward for performing a task.
It can be tough to warm to the idea of a business-related activity that isn’t going to pay off in the short term. This is when you remind yourself of your why.
What is it about your business that stokes your passion? What is the main goal or big dream you want to see realised?
So, while you are not looking at an immediate bump in revenues for the hours spent learning new skills, it will help you achieve your business objectives later down the road. Eventually, the revenues will follow.
Once you pay attention to your ‘why’, the ‘how’ will be that much easier.
Make it attractive
Much of what we accomplish (or fail to) is determined by the mental programming we apply to our ambitions.
Naturally, if you regard reading a 300-page e-book on SEO as torture, you probably won’t get very far.
Aside from remembering your why, it’s useful to reprogram your brain to think more favourably about the process of continued learning.
Here’s an example. A small business owner has a successful blog that drives sales to her e-commerce store. However, it’s a challenge to find stock photography relevant to her industry. So, she decides to purchase an online photography course to learn how to take her own photos for her blog.
Learning the ins and outs of photography, particularly for a non-technical person, can be intimidating. If, however, the experience is reframed as a valuable skill that will save time and money, that’s something else entirely.
When you’re able to take your own pictures like a boss, you won’t have to sort through thousands of Shutterstock photos just to find one usable needle in that photo-stack. You can pick up your camera and take loads of high-quality pictures that will make your blog pop. No need to rely on anything or anyone, you got this!
Create a learning sanctuary
Learning a business skill is work. It requires concentration and applying oneself. If you’re going to make the effort anyway, why not stack the odds in your favour?
Create an inspiring space that makes you feel motivated to learn.
Don’t simply co-opt a dining room chair that’s as comfy as a sidewalk and a rinky-dink desk that was about to be thrown away. Find a chair that’s comfortable enough for you to want to work from it. Complement it with a desk that can hold more than laptop and a coffee cup. Add a decent lamp and hang a motivational message on the wall.
Your learning sanctuary should also be clutter-free, neat and tidy.
Create a vision board
A fantastic addition to your learning sanctuary is a vision board. A vision board is a physical representation of the concept of remembering your why.
The best way to achieve your goals is to keep them uppermost in your mind.
It’s easy for your vision to become blurred with the haze of daily life. By putting a vision board in your learning sanctuary, there will be a constant reminder of the destination, the end goal, the reason why you are taking on new skills.
In our business, we’ve gone the extra step and created a ‘vision office’. Our entire office is an inspirational space that helps motivate us do important tasks which aren’t necessarily our favourite things to do. In our vision office, we are constantly reminded of the future we’ve laid out for ourselves and our business. This helps keep us driven to complete the must-do activities that will take our business to the next level.
Learning new skills, while not always fun, is an important step in your climb to success. Every now and then, it’s good to have a reminder of what that success will look like.
Visualise yourself taking action
So, our previous two tips involved visualising your goals and spelling them out on a board. This next tip is about picturing yourself taking the action leading to the realisation of your goals.
First, visualise yourself in your learning sanctuary every day taking on the new skills necessary to grow your business. You’re more likely to do this if, at the beginning of each morning, you visualise yourself sitting down for an hour to learn. Then, imagine yourself actually using your new skill and all the benefits that come bundled with it.
Let’s say you wanted to learn how to shoot video to promote your camping gear company. You’d want to visualise yourself going out with a camera on days when the weather is ideal for shooting video.
Plot out in your mind all the great locations you’d go to try out your newly acquired skills. Then you’d visualise what these videos would do for your website and social media pages and the great reaction you’d get from potential customers.
If you visualise taking action towards your goals, you’re far more likely to go from visualisation to execution.
Lifelong learning: it’s all pros
You know that growing your business demands continued learning.
Today’s competitive environment has eroded the belief that once you’re done with school, you’re done with all books and coursework.
Learning a new skill isn’t always fun, but it doesn’t have to feel like licking envelopes for a living either.
Always remember how these new abilities can improve your life. Plus, it’s cool to know new things. Keep that in mind and tune out everything else. It will inspire you to keep learning.
Read the Other Blogs in This Series
~ Part Two: 10 Tips to Finish Those Online Courses You’ve Paid For!
~ Part Three: Take Action: How To Implement What You’ve Learnt