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Back to school, time to learn

Learning

The summer holidays have come to a screeching halt which is either a terrible thing or a very good thing depending on who you talk to. September marks the time where hordes of children, teenagers, young adults and the occasional mature student make tracks back towards their respective institutions of education to work away at their studies for the next academic year.

This could be an ideal opportunity for you to re-evaluate what you could learn in the coming year too. Learning should continue throughout your adult life and now is the perfect time to see where gaps in your knowledge might lie.

When you started your small business, you would have been on a steep learning curve in trying to work out how to keep the books balanced and all of the business critical processes running as smoothly as possible. As this starts to become second nature and just part of the process, there is a temptation to just let things tick over and not push yourself to learn anything else.

The truth is there are always more nuances you can learn about the various areas of your business and if you can keep learning and keep building on what you already know, you may be able to hit on some excellent strategies that will boost your business, generate new revenue or provide increased stability to the whole thing.

Lets take a look at five areas you can always learn more about to help you your business out.

1. Accounts and finances

Money makes the business world go round or grind to a halt depending on which way it is flowing and who it is flowing to. Unless you have rigorously studied accountancy and know everything there is to know about tax law and banking, you can always benefit from being better informed.

Reading up about any schemes or subsidies there might be to help you out in your trade, or even heading back to the FSB to see if there’s an area they can directly help you out in (for example discounted business insurance for FSB members or other member services that cover financial areas) could yield you operational savings.

Also, learning more about your finances can help you spot areas that are or are not efficient in your business and help you better direct your attention. Even if you employ a dedicated accountant, learning more about the process beyond the bare minimum required to survive can not only help you build up those numbers but can also help to make your business more stable at the same time.

2. IT and software

IT infrastructure can make or break a business, but for small businesses, depending on what you’re doing, it might be less critical. However, the software market is so infinitely huge that a little time invested in learning about it and what it can offer can yield some significant results.

With the boom of cloud computing, there are a huge number of companies now which have found niche areas of the business world to specialise in, ranging from project management to data storage. Any problem that you might have in running your empire might very well be solvable through a software solution.

Where this becomes a bigger research task however is in finding out the limitations of those solutions offered to you. Technology and software in general can occasionally end up giving you additional problems instead of solving your existing issues, so learning the limitations of software can be very valuable.

3. Marketing strategy

Marketing is probably the least understood aspect of the business process for many people so is undoubtedly an area that almost every business could do a little reading up on, even those considering themselves experts. Unfortunately, marketing is also an area that is full of people trying to make money from that vacuum of knowledge.

There are plenty of free resources on the internet to get you started on any area that you want to brush up on, but a major piece of advice that can be given to anyone about learning more about marketing is that it really isn’t as complicated as you might think. It takes a lot of skill to get it right, but not so much skill to try it and see what works. We will be producing some marketing advice pieces for you in the near future.

4. Human Resources

Do you employ staff? Are you about to need staff? Either way there are a several things you could be reading up on, ranging from the legal logistics of how to actually employ staff through to the more psychological aspects of becoming a people wrangler and inspiring your workers to perform to the best of their abilities.

Motivational techniques is almost a field in itself, and like marketing, there are a lot of people out there keen to take your money to tell you how to do it and how to become a better leader. Finding out what works and doesn’t work can be a monumental task and this sort of learning process will more than likely require you to look closely at the type of staff you employ, as the same techniques won’t work with everyone.

5. Creativity

Creativity is probably a slightly contentious thing to put on a list of things that you can learn. This is more something that you can more likely work on over time.

There are however no bars to being creative. Some might have more of a flair for it than others, but with practise anyone can produce amazingly creative ideas. Don’t be embarrassed to work on things that you might traditionally not be great at. Honing artistic skills can have a knock on effect with any design work that you do, creative writing will work wonders for product literature and even things like amateur dramatics and music can lend you confidence for more day-to-day activities.

Many people put off learning more about their creative side because they feel they aren’t good at it, therefore shouldn’t try, but this process should be about improving. Nobody is great at something straight away and a few extra hours invested here and there can have an incredible over-all impact on running your own business.

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