There is an old saying that you can’t teach an old dog a new trick. As a business owner, you can’t afford to buy into that thinking. If you are not constantly reinventing yourself and your business, then chances are you will be out of business soon.
I know that sounds pretty harsh but the rate of change is speeding up and you have to constantly improve your understanding of your market, your customers, what they want and how they want it delivered to them.
I remember attending a Tom Peter’s workshop where he told the audience, “look to your right, then look to your left. In three years, one of you will be out of your current job.” The point he was making is that as human beings in today’s fast moving society we are “depreciating” at a rate of 33 1/3 % a year. In short, Mr. Peters said that if you didn’t reinvent yourself every three years you are obsolete!
That thought has stayed with me over the years. I truly believe that if you are not investing in yourself and your skills it is hard for you to lead your company through these rapidly changing times. I know it is easy to get caught up in the day to day operations of your business but you must schedule time to seek new ideas and “work on” you and your business.
The bright side is that it is easier than ever to find ways to educate yourself on market trends and general business skills. The internet has a plethora of opportunities to gain knowledge. There are webinars and on-line classes on almost any topic in which you may have an interest.
The Georgia Small Business Development Center Network, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Internal Revenue Service all offer free on-line classes.
Tradeshows are another way to stay current on trends that will have impact on your business. Not only do they have vendor booths but typically they offer training on current issues that are impacting your industry.
In our local area, we have many continuing education classes geared to small business owners. One of my favorites is Georgia Tech’s monthly “Food for Thought” series. The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center offers intensive 40 hour training programs for existing businesses as well as new businesses with our ”Grow Smart” and ”Start Smart” programs.
If you are looking to grow your business internationally, we have both webinars and classes geared to learning how to do business abroad.
The real challenge when it comes to keeping fresh and continually educating yourself is making it a priority and setting aside the time to achieve it. I challenge business owners to make this a yearly goal. Remember the old saying “what gets measured gets done”. So set a goal this year for improvement and be specific.
Remember success is a journey and ongoing education is the fuel necessary to make the trip!
Lynn Vos is Area Director of The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center. Contact her at 912-651-3200.