Q: Steve – I read one of your columns in which you suggested that continued training is a good idea for small-business owners. That might be true, but who has time? I for one fail to see how more training can help the bottom line. - Mike
A: I see your point but actually think we are on the same page. Taking classes, seminars or other training for its own sake is certainly not something most entrepreneurs are either interested in or have time for. That is not what I am talking about.
I do suggest, though, that there may be two times when extra classes or seminars can be really beneficial; when they, to quote you, Mike, "help the bottom line."
The first relates to those areas of your business where you are not so proficient. Of course you are strong in some areas of your business that you like, whether it be people, or numbers, or doing the actual thing your business does (teaching scuba diving, baking bread or whatever.) But I would venture that there are also areas of your business that you don't like, and those are probably the areas where your skills are not as strong.
Classes that strengthen you in those areas can go a long way to making you a more effective, more productive, wealthier business person. If you are weak in finances, take a budgeting class at your local community college. If you are good with numbers but bad with people, consider a public speaking course. Boning-up on weak areas makes you a better all-around entrepreneur.
The second area where increased training can make a considerable difference is with regard to growth. In particular, there are three areas in which extra learning can help almost any small-business person with the result being an increase in the bottom line.
1. Technology: The information-communication-computer-software technology revolution over the past 25 years has radically changed how we all do business. Indeed, it is the most monumental thing to ever happen to small business.
Yet if you are like most small-business people, your knowledge of what technology can do for you and your business comes haphazardly. Typically, if you are like most of the rest of us, your technological savvy, such as it is, comes from trial-and-error, watching and talking to friends and associates, reading a few articles (when you have time), and maybe asking some pointed questions of that tech support guy in India.
But the fact is, there is a lot of computer power waiting for you, if only you knew what was available and then how to use it. Large corporations have created some incredible tools for us small-business owners, but if you don't get out there, learn about them, and take some courses on how to tap the power of technology, the parade is going to pass you by.
2. Marketing and Advertising: As in the case of technology, the world of marketing has changed a lot too over the past few years with the Internet transforming both how businesses market their products and how people buy them, among other things.
Sure you work hard at keeping up, but all work and no class makes Jack a dull businessman. Seminars, either online, at a local college or through a business seminar company can teach you some new tricks, such as:
- Using the Web to increase sales
- Search engine optimization
- Online advertising Dos and Don'ts
3. Sales: My dad used to say he was "the world's greatest salesman." Some people are born with that sort of chutzpah, others are not. But the great thing about selling is that whether you are a natural-born sales person or not, this is one area where tips from the masters can really yield some great results. Selling gurus like Brian Tracy, Zig Zigler and Tom Hopkins have condensed their knowledge into systems and seminars you can buy and learn. Learning sales from the pros can make a big difference in your business.
Training: It doesn't cost, it pays.
Today's tip: Pop quiz! According to master salesman Tom Hopkins, what is the most important skill to develop in order to get ahead? Qualifying people better? Cold calling? Closing? Nope, it's none of these. According to Hopkins, the answer is – learning to read faster.
Says Hopkins, "Unfortunately, "overwhelmed" is the feeling most adults in the business world have when asked about reading material. It doesn't matter if it's a newsletter, magazine, or the latest marketing idea that could help them earn twice what they did last year. When people are faced [so much to read these days] reading can become a burden."
The solution he says, is to take a speed reading class.
© 2010 Steven D. Strauss, www.MrAllBiz.com