Leveraging Learning to jump start your business

“If you are not learning, you are dying”.

As a business owner continuously refining your business by constantly learning is an integral part of sustaining long term viability. Within business nothing stays the same for long, so relying on past wins as a game plan builds in boobie traps to your foundation that can quickly take you under.  Markets change, audiences change and competition changes and that is a guarantee.  Preparation to avoid the pitfalls of this ever changing market should also be a guarantee as you plot your own path to success.  Investing in learning and growth can ensure your company is responsive to these changing environments, instead of reacting to problems and obstacles the unknown future almost certainly holds in its cards.

A focus on continual learning in your professional life doesn’t have to be as defined as a commitment to go back for a degree or a formal certificate program. If you can assess, research, and pull together others adding to your professional education can be as simple as 1, 2, 3:

Access: This requires an honest assessment of where you are in skills and knowledge. If you are able to do this or poll respected colleagues or co-workers for their opinion you will be able to start first with where you are to determine where you want to go.   This understanding is key as it gives you the focus not to just reach out for general information but to sort through the learning environment for what specifically can apply to advance your business.

Research: I think general seminars and books are a great start to keep you motivated as well as give you a general sense of up to date information. These sources have already been cultivated to deliver a specific message and the research and sources are on point with current issues.  For me seeing the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur Summit I quickly reviewed the agenda and signed on.  It is not just a quick opportunity to cover lapses in knowledge that I am aware of, but also to learn something from issues that may not have been on my radar in my normal practice of expecting the best but preparing for the worst I my business.

Pulling together others: An additional resource you can pull from educational seminars is knowledge from your peers that can ultimately be invaluable. Making connections with a range of people, some who may have a similar mission and others whose goals are diverse give you a broad awareness of issues that can impact your business and a heads up on key areas of improvement.  An educational seminar pulls together people who at least have a base of pushing for common information and this base can be a spring board to shared interest and later collaborations.  Next time you are at a seminar or luncheon really put on your listening hat for the knowledge just immediately around you.  When your mind is open you will always be surprised what new you can learn.

5 Lessons I relearned though watching kids

Back to schoolSomething about the mind of a child holds the key to a lot of life lessons we forget as adults.  Their point of view of the world, that has yet to be hindered by years of the rejections and limitations, cast some light on the true potential we each have to do and to be anything that we want.  In some recently pondering of why I have been feeling stalled lately I refocused on some lessons kids seem to have mastered, that as an adult have become a little cloudy for me.  Here are the 5 lessons I took away from the way kids approach life:

1. Never forget to ask why not. When the answer is anywhere remotely close to no, most kids instantly play their “Why Not” card. Kids are clueless of the risk of annoying whoever they pose the question to. They prioritize the need to understand what is going on if they are not going to get what they want. As adults we lose some of this determination to getting to the bottom of the road blocks ahead of us by not wanting to sound like an idiot or be rejected or get our feelings hurt. When we get to the bottom of why people say no, from their perspective, we have given ourselves a short cut to actually solving the problem instead of working on all the wrong ways to fix it. (Knowing and understanding the problem is half of the battle)
2. Imagination turns a box into a spaceship. Turning the box a toy spaceship came in into a spaceship happens in a breeze for kids. As adults though we lose some of that creative ability for the sake of being practical. Being practically is a necessary component of being a responsible adult. Unfortunately that means for many people sweeping the dreamer in you under the rug. Even as adults though we have to give our minds reign to let the imagination run free. Like most things if you don’t use it you lose it so make sure to make time to rekindle the dreamer in you.
3. If the damage is not too bad and no one is looking, what is the point of kicking and screaming? I am the kind of mom who sees a kid take a small tumble and quickly turns my head and waits for a scream. The funny thing is that when there is no one looking a small fall that would have gotten a big reaction just results in a child picking themselves up, evaluating the damage and keeping it moving. Sometimes our pride is what is really hurt when we make a mistake and to appease this pride we make a big deal about a small problem. Carrying on as if no one is looking and picking yourself back up does wonders in the process of moving forward.
4. Mirrors show us how we see ourselves. My friend sent me a video of her son semi-infatuated with himself in the mirror. He looked at his reflection like it was the most exciting thing he ever encountered. As we grow up though we look at the mirror to tell us if the world thinks we will look good. Your reflection should always be beautiful to you because its you. If you are inside or outside of the world’s definition of beauty, there are things that make you special and unique to you. After all, what is more beautiful than something that is perfectly unique?
5. When one road is blocked, check for alternatives. I swear we should hire kids as strategic planners. They think of a plan and of the path of least resistance to tackling that plan. Ever have a child ask you for something betting you will be an easier sale than another responsible party (or vice versa and had them not want to ask you)??? Kids learn that when you can take an easier path you should. While as an adult you have to learn to balance the easier road with being honest, there is nothing wrong with giving yourself a heads up in thinking of which path will be easier or faster for you to get things done.