As an entrepreneur, every day is a school day.
Sometimes you’re learning the hard way through trial and error, sometimes through your network discussing effective tools or strategies, sometimes through a thought provoking question asked during a talk or workshop. Learning and finding opportunities to grow is one thing that cannot be ignored as you develop and scale a business. Curating that learning, however, is up to you.
Learning is not attained by chance,
it must be sought for with ardor and diligence.
Growth, education, and the will to learn are repeatedly called upon by leaders from Albert Einstein and Gandhi, to Elon Musk and Richard Branson (and many more in between).
Many reading this post are women. And as women, we have a tendency to give to those around us before giving to ourselves. If you want to read about why/how we hold ourselves back from investing in ourselves, read: The Top 5 Reasons Women Resist Investing In Themselves And How It Hurts Them.
This post is not about why you should continue learning - you already know that you should. Nor is it about why we make excuses not to pursue investment in our personal and professional growth. It’s about finding and curating the most important learning opportunities for you.
The education system is changing. Rather than enrolling in a full diploma or year long course, you can now cherry pick your education options to fill the gaps where and when they need filling. This is brilliant for a busy entrepreneur and mother just starting out, a founder looking to scale their business, or seasoned startup looking to branch out into new service offerings and develop their team.
Here are four steps you can take toward finding the perfect course to suit your needs.
1. Map out your schedule
How much time will you have in the coming month or so to devote to a course? Are you able to commit 3-5 hours per day to course work? Or, would you prefer a two day intensive program to speed through the process?
Whatever your schedule, set a time-related goal and work backward blocking out the necessary time in your schedule. Be realistic with yourself and tell others about your schedule. The most important part of this step is to commit. Asking others will help to set boundaries on your time and perhaps help to hold you accountable to your own schedule.
2. Determine your learning style
There are courses offered online where you can learn at your own pace. These are perfect to suit a busy lifestyle but they can also be detrimental if you are not someone who can stick to self-imposed deadlines. Therefore, something more structured may work better for you. Personally, I need deadlines and someone holding me accountable for these types of things. I know that if I register for something free online, it will join the online course graveyard I’ve been cultivating since university.
When selecting a course, find out what the suggested structure is and compare it with your schedule. The perfect fit may be a flexible online course with a community within which you can engage, ask questions, and request help in accountability department, if necessary. There will probably be many others in the same department looking for similar support in return.
3. What do you need to learn? What can wait?
The beauty of an evolving curriculum is that there are courses popping every day up to suit any of your needs and which are offered in a variety of formats. Rather than enrolling in a full diploma program and taking unnecessary courses in order to achieve ‘certification’ you can select what is relevant and put everything else off, for now.
Need a crash course in social media or ad creation? A simple google search brings up a variety of options ranging from free tutorials via Youtube, to online certifications and even in class options such as General Assembly in Hong Kong.
The best place to start is to write a list and prioritize it. Do you have any specific business goals you are working towards in the next few months? Again, work backward from these goals. What are the most important skills to learn first?
4. Evaluate the course itself
There are a plethora of courses available to anyone on just about anything. Unfortunately, some are far superior than others when it comes to quality content and learning outcomes. So be selective and read some reviews. A good rule of thumb, if it’s free it may not be high value. Think about it, the time spent creating a course should be reflected in the price. Otherwise, it may simply be a way for the company offering the course to sell you something else.
Also, think back to how you work best. Does a free course inspire commitment within you? Or could you be more likely to put it off and eventually let it join the course graveyard?
There is also the matter of who is offering the course. Is the course offered by a leader in the field? For example, the Google Analytics Academy is a great example of a free course that is offered by a leader in the field. The reputation of the course and the benefits of taking it at the source of what you need to learn outweighs the concern that a free course may not be of high value.
The point is, your time and your money should be taken into account when determining your investment in your education and training. A high value course that you know is necessary but costs a little more is probably worth the investment. So stop making excuses. Just make sure you set yourself up for success before embarking on the task.
Think you may need a course that can help jumpstart your aspirations? We’re about to launch one dedicated to the needs of female entrepreneurs. It includes coursework, a community of supporters, and flexible course content.
Be the first to know when it’s live and receive exclusive offers. Sign up here.