When you are building your own business, it is important to remain current with the demands of your industry and constantly improve your skills. Continuing your education is proof of your involvement in your own future, and therefore has your company’s interest at heart too. By taking courses or seminars, you are showing your interest in growing, not stagnating. Putting in the effort to attend a course, seminar or conference takes planning (someone has to pick up your slack, both personal and professional) research (what and how are you going to study, and why), and dedication (attend, listen, think about, and come away with something). The beauty of continuing education is that you can choose to up your skills in a number of different and interesting ways: you may choose a formal qualification which will require you to attend classes at a university or other tertiary education institute and to write exams.
You may choose, however, to study informally by reading specialist magazines (financial, business, industry specific), doing your own research on the Internet, subscribing to specialist online newsletters, investing in educational DVDs or CDs, reading books on your subject matter of choice, or attending conferences and seminars that focus on the topics that interest you. Understand that choosing this route will require discipline and self-motivation. While you won’t get a recognised qualification, that may not matter to you if you are running your own business – what will matter is the new knowledge you have acquired and the skills you can hone.
Determine weak points and tackle them
Before you embark on a study programme, it’s a good idea to find out where your weaknesses lie and to address them; that way, you learn a skill that actually adds benefit to your work life as opposed to merely being of interest to you. If you’re bad at public speaking or presenting, for example, make this an area for improvement and do all you can to learn how to overcome your fears and dazzle your audience. Remember to practice, practice, practice when it comes to developing a practical skill – merely reading a lot about itwill not do the job on its own.
Find a mentor
Mentoring is a highly effective means of developing talent.Find an experienced person who is willing and able to devote the necessary time to an engagement with you. Mentoring should be private, and it must have purpose and aim for progress. Your mentor must be able to provide wise counsel, be a source of inspiration and act as a role model, a sounding board, a guide, a skills developer, and a champion who believes in your abilities and capacity for learning.
Continuing education benefits individuals, communities and the economy.
- It provides individuals with knowledge, skills and understanding.
- It makes communities more productive and innovative. In our knowledge-based economy and society, change is constant in the workplace. But people who embrace lifelong learning – who constantly learn new skills and train for new challenges – can better cope with the demands of workplace changes.
- It strengthens the economy. The more skills, knowledge and ability that individuals develop, the greater the level of capacity in the economy.