Sharpen your skills and enhance your business by taking charge of your professional development.
In a business world brimming with self-help advice, this nugget rings true: Pursuing continuing education makes you a better business owner.
Some professions require continuing education in order for you to keep your license. But if you’re not in that group, you can (and should) still seek out opportunities for professional growth. Even if you’re a rock star entrepreneur, we can all benefit from developing our skills in some area. New knowledge and connections keep us relevant, competitive, and savvy, plus they help scoop us out of the rhythm of everyday work.
But where can you find relevant resources when you’re on your own as an entrepreneur?
Here are four strategies we recommend for entrepreneurs who are ready to invest in their own professional development.
Join a Professional Organization Within Your Field
Check out local, state, and national associations for professionals in your line of work. Membership often requires a financial investment of dues and, sometimes, event fees; however, you can take advantage of education, leadership, and networking opportunities. These can be great chances to snag regular infusions of new knowledge. Some groups also offer certification opportunities specific to your field. If you feel you don’t have time, it’s still worth the investment – remember, you can determine exactly how involved you want to be.
Find a Mentor
Nothing can replace the value of a seasoned professional in your field whose knowledge you can tap when you’re looking to grow. It’s always a good time to begin fostering a relationship with a more seasoned entrepreneur whom you admire. Mentoring relationships require some time, some thoughtfulness on your part, and (usually) a little financial investment (for example, meeting up for meals or coffee, the occasional thank-you gift, books you’ll read together, etc.). If you’d like, you could also consider leaning into a formal coaching relationship. Professional coaching often involves a concrete commitment of money and time but can provide strong and fast results for you and your business.
Take a Class to Tweak Your Skills
Taking a class can be a great strategy to hone any skill that you would like to improve. Whether it’s something directly related to your current business goals or a skill on your Nice To Do list, check out classes or conferences offered by business organizations, networking groups, professional associations, or universities. Such courses can allow you to make an often-modest investment of time and money while gaining some very tangible rewards in your daily work.
Pursue a Certification or Degree
This is perhaps the most time- and cost-intensive option, but it’s no doubt a great one if you’re passionate about learning or find that additional formal education could be essential to your business’s success. If you set your sights on a new certification or degree, be sure to gauge the rewards and risks of this strategy, including the value of both the time and expense you’ll spend pursuing it.
The entrepreneur’s journey offers great opportunities for gathering on-the-job experience, but focusing development can be a great way to stay ahead of the curve.
With so many resources available today in both traditional classrooms and online, you’re sure to find something that meets your needs. With technology, you have more flexibility than ever to keep your skills sharp and help your business continue to flourish.
About Emily D. Tisdale, Founder & CEO
Meet the brains — and heart — behind LEAP for Women. Emily is LEAP’s guiding force, committed to supporting women entrepreneurs at every stage in their journey.
She loves LEAP because:
A resident of Indiana, Emily prides herself on being a transplanted Hoosier and enjoys watching Colts football and spending time with her husband and their two children.