If there is one thing that’s constant, it’s change. As a small business owner, there are some tried and true practices that will always work best for you and your business. Other areas, however, can always benefit from a little update or improvement every once in a while. This could be your product or the way you run social media, or anything from your accounting practices to your marketing strategy. While the areas of improvement will vary vastly from business to business, one thing is certain: Everyone can benefit from more education.
In order to keep up with the ever-evolving marketplace, small business owners should set aside time to continue their education. This will help you stay up-to-date with the best practices that your small business can benefit from. We’ve come up with a few very accessible resources ranging in price (many of them free!) and formatting to help you discover one that best fits your learning style.
Watch a TED Talk
For over 30 years, TED Talks have been highlighting some of the most interesting topics in technology, entertainment and design. With the goal of spreading ideas and new ways of thinking, TED has been a one-of-a-kind platform for sharing new ideas through their videos, podcasts and conferences. Search by topic on their site, or get started with some of these videos recommended for small business owners:
- Productivity — How to Make Stress Your Friend
- Business — How to Get Your Ideas Spread
- Creativity — 4 Lessons in Creativity
- Inspiration — Have Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals and Take Baby Steps
- Success — Success, Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating
Podcasts are the perfect way to multitask while you’re learning. When you’re in your car commuting, running outside, grocery shopping, showering or organizing stock at your store — there are so many potential windows of time that you can fill with educational podcasts directed at small business owners like yourself. Be one of the estimated one billion people who subscribe to podcasts. Here’s a couple to get you started:
- Shared experience and common problems — Small Business War Stories
- Q + A-style troubleshooting — Office Hours
- Improving growth potential — Accelerate Your Business Growth
- Key issues and foundational tips — Breaking Down Your Business
- Marketing — Online Marketing Made Easy
Experience can be one of the best teachers, so why not tap into the experiences of others who have been there before? There are many opportunities to learn from others who not only have a small business, but also know and love your community like you do. Taking courses or attending seminars in your area can be very valuable experience. Tap into your community through free or subsidized courses through your local library branch, community college, park district and other locally-based teachers.
Online seminars, or “webinars,” are a great (and free!) resource for furthering your education. Webinars often discuss strategies or cover topical subjects that could be valuable for keeping up with the latest trends for your business.
- General small business webinars — BizLaunch
- Government-sponsored webinars (funding) — IRS
- Mentor-based, industry leaders — SCORE
If you have the time for an in-person approach to education, consider searching for a networking event, seminar or conference. Live events have an added benefit that online approaches omit: When you’re in person, you get the presentation plus the real-time collaboration with your peers. Hearing how others deal with the same challenges you do (and how they overcome them) can be the real life case study you needed to help improve your business. Plus, the relationships you build networking with other small business owners may help you down the line in ways you may not even expect. There are a few ways to stay up to date with the latest events.
- Set up Google Alerts to be notified of events in your industry. Make sure to look for discounts on corporate travel before you book your trip!
- Search LinkedIn for networking events.
- Sign up for email newsletters from conferences you’d like to attend.
- Follow your favorite brands on social media — many executives at big companies will speak at special events, panels and other educational events.