Having made the transition from corporate employee to business owner there is one aspect that I’ve discovered as being a huge potential downfall and a lost opportunity for small business owners – both solo operators and sole traders with small teams. That thing is upskilling and professional development.
As a corporate employee attending training sessions and professional development courses were more ingrained as something that you had to do as part of your role within the business and the main kicker is that it was generally paid for out of the company’s purse. Although there were times in my corporate life where attending these things were often something I had to fight for but the options were most definitely there. Now that I’m in business myself I’ve observed myself falling into the small business owner trap of spending my time working in my business at the expense of not pushing myself to attend professional development and upskilling courses because they (a) come out of my pocket now and (b) attending these things usually means time spent away from the desk and therefore I’m losing billable earnings. And every small business owner has their moments of this – but here’s why I ensure I keep myself out of that trap as a small business owner and Virtual Assistant.
1. Changing Marketplace
The market landscape is constantly shifting, certain industries are expanding, others are contracting, the next best shiny thing is always making its way into the business ecosystem and business owners are jumping on the next bandwagon to keep up. As a virtual assistant this not only affects my own business client leads but also my client’s leads and direction. So continually learning and developing helps me to keep up to speed with what is happening out in the marketplace.
2. Changing Technology
This is a huge one for me as a Virtual Assistant because having the knowledge of systems is possibly the largest part of the skills required to do my role for my clients. The software and systems that come out on the market are forever evolving and it’s in my (and for my client’s) best interests to continue to keep up to date with the technology and options that are out there to help their businesses. I also do this for my own businesses technology needs too – ensuring my business processes are efficient and streamlined with the assistance of technology is important too.
3. Client Needs
All businesses are ever evolving and as they move through their lifecycle the needs and directions change. When I usually start with my clients it begins with the initial setup or fine-tuning of their administrative needs. Once everything is moving along nicely generally it gives the room for my clients to move into complementary markets or new service offerings or new products. Along with these business changes come new and changing client needs so I need to undertake training to be able to learn and adapt accordingly.
4. Personal Development
Being a business owner is a completely new landscape to navigate and the mental and emotional demands are somewhat heightened further than being an employee. You’re constantly questioning yourself and the actions you take and because of this undertaking training and courses within the personal development space (and not just professional) is a great way to step back and look at yourself and assess where you are in your business.
I’ve always been an avid learner but the drive to keep my skills up to date is even more important for me now as a business owner myself. I think if you sit still instead of going with the wave of change then you will very quickly be left behind. There are many many options out there (let’s be honest, our Facebook newsfeeds are full of sponsored posts about workshops and training and development products every single day). So I’d love to know about what upskilling you undertake in your business or what are areas that you find you need to further develop in.