As an entrepreneur, when should you stop learning? When you graduate college? When you finally know enough about marketing to run your own company? In reality, the most successful entrepreneurs are knowledge-hungry and thrive on continual growth, constantly expanding their minds. Here’s how continuous learning will help your career.
Adapting to Change
We live in an age of near-constant flux. No matter which industry you work in, odds are your job would have looked very different 50 years ago, and your current role will continue to evolve in the coming decades.
Continuous learning ensures you’ll stay current no matter what happens and increase your company’s resilience. You can adapt your business to changing market conditions, customer expectations and world events, weathering any storm that comes your way.
For example, when former accountant Jane Lu quit her job to pursue her side hustle — running pop-up stores that sold products from new designers — and the business failed, she realized she had to do things differently.
Jobless and deeply in debt, she launched her own brick-and-mortar fashion boutique, Showpo. She quickly learned a digital store would be more scalable and moved the venture entirely online. Today, her business brings in over $100 million in sales every year. A change in business model made all the difference.
Diversifying Your Skills
Another benefit of continuous learning is that you can broaden your skill set, which can help you better understand your current business or pick up skills that could come in handy someday.
You may be a connoisseur of customer-facing interactions, but what about the financial side of your company? You’re an expert barista at your family-run coffee shop, but what if you expanded the cafe to serve homemade pastries?
Diversifying your skills lets you take on new challenges. Right now, there are countless opportunities around you that you can take advantage of once you have the right skills.
Boosting Your Confidence
Not sure how to create video advertisements? Watch tutorials or take an online course to teach you. Want to get better at project management? Read about it or attend a seminar.
The more you learn about business ownership, the more your confidence will grow, opening up new career opportunities. Knowing what you’re doing will reduce any lingering feelings of impostor syndrome and give you the conviction to chase your dreams.
You can even boost your confidence directly by learning how to make better eye contact, negotiate contracts and cold call potential clients. Another excellent skill to learn is how to stop using words that soften your speech — like “actually” and “just” — to sound more sure of yourself. Read about how women adapt their language in the workplace to see if you’re unintentionally making investors take you less seriously.
Workshops, conferences and online courses are great ways to sharpen your business acumen. They can also potentially introduce you to people you really need to meet. Think of in-person events as networking opportunities that will help you grow your career.
Perhaps you’ll get to know other successful entrepreneurs in the same industry and you can prod them for tips on how to run your business. Ask people if they’d be willing to mentor you or meet up over lunch to discuss their venture.
Importantly, you may meet people who will support you if times get tough or you just need someone to commiserate with. Being a female entrepreneur can be difficult at times. Despite owning 42% of all companies in the U.S., female entrepreneurs receive 8% less in equity from investors than men, with the Small Business Administration giving 72% of its loans to male-owned businesses. Meeting other business owners who understand the struggle can be very reassuring.
Supporting an Entrepreneurial Mindset
You obviously have an entrepreneurial mindset if you’re running a company — you’re creative, perseverant and willing to take risks, all crucial qualities for a business owner. But continuous learning can help you maintain that competitive edge long after the initial excitement of entrepreneurship wears off.
Cultivating a growth mindset and embracing a love of learning will make you even better at your job. It will remind you that failure is an opportunity, other people’s success is not a threat and you can develop the skills to do anything you want. It will help you become better at asking for and receiving feedback when you need it, advancing your career when you feel stuck.
When you’re an entrepreneur, the learning never stops. Making a concerted effort to acquire new skills, meet people, develop your confidence and adapt to changes will strongly improve your career advancement prospects.
Above all, continuous learning will make you a better business owner and help you keep moving forward when the going gets tough. Owning a business is, without a doubt, a difficult endeavor, but you’re savvy enough to rise to the occasion. Get out there and make it happen!
WRITTEN BYDevin Partida