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It sounds simple, but it is true. For the last 5 or 6 years many people in business have jettisoned any ideas about developing their skills in favor of ensuring the survival of their business. That is completely understandable. After all, who would not do the same?
Now, as the economic landscape slowly shifts into positive territory, isn’t it time that you looked at how you are building on your skills and experience in order to drive your business to a new level? It is no longer something that can be relegated to the ‘nice, if I had time, to do’ list. It is imperative that you, and other business leaders, take a look at how you plan to improve your skills and knowledge to benefit your business.
Right now, it does not matter what business you are in, somebody somewhere on this planet is snapping at your heels and is trying to ‘eat your lunch.’
I am not advocating that you throw everything up in the air and close the door for a few months while you go back to college. What I am suggesting is that you use the tools readily (and sometimes freely) available to you.
Seek Local Resources
Your local chamber has a number of resources that can help you grow your business and expand your knowledge in a structured and (sometimes) certified manner. At the Clonmel Chamber, we are the host organization for 2 Skillnet networks; County Tipperary Skillnet and Social Media Skillnet.
Your chamber may also offer subsidized training for businesses to enable them to improve their skills and to remain more competitive. If your local chamber doesn’t offer something like that, speak with them about how they stay abreast of changes to digital marketing. Many chambers would be delighted to help you if you mention there is an area in which you would like to receive some training.
There are a number of ways of helping you to grow your business through learning. Developing your online skills will help your business, as will seeking out a mentor.
We offer a free mentoring service to SME members called ‘Small Business Advice’. To date, we have facilitated just under 500 mentoring referrals for the service and businesses have sought advice on logistics, finance, marketing, export, HR and much more.
In Ireland, Small Business Advice is a free service and is available nationally. For businesses outside of Ireland, contact your chamber, economic development council, university, or the local branch of the Small Business Administration. Many communities offer free programs for start-ups and existing businesses. After all a strong economy is predicated on strong businesses.
Twitter As A CPD Tool?
A few months ago I watched a YouTube video of a presentation given by Louise McDonald, CEO of Young Scotland, about how she uses Twitter. During the presentation she made a statement that really caught my attention:
I regard Twitter as the best CPD tool available to me.
When I actually gave it some thought I found it hard to disagree with her. Twitter is a fantastic tool to use to see what your counterparts in other parts of the world are doing. This may only take 5, 10 or 15 minutes a day to do, or you may decide to do it once a week, but I would suggest doing it. The information that can be gleaned from a 140 character tweet could spark something in your mind or lead you to further investigation.
Online publications like Inc Magazine are excellent tools for improving your understanding of what is happening globally.
If you are an iPad addict (like me!) you should install the Pocket app and save relevant articles to the app for reading later. I use this app every day and as I see links or articles that I would like to read at a different time, I simply long press the link and save it straight to Pocket.
Websites like Inc.com and Fast Company are also tremendous online resources for learning and much more lucrative to your business than an evening spent watching “The Big Bang Theory.”
Learning is not a luxury. In modern business it is a necessity and it doesn’t need to be a lengthy formal process. It can take the form of meaningful web browsing or interactions with services that are in place to help you.
As always, my chamber colleagues and I are here to help. Feel free to email me from wherever you are in the world.
My address is email@example.com
Brian Cleary is the Chief Executive of County Tipperary Chamber of Commerce. He’s also the past director of Chambers Ireland. He writes for a number of online publications and is a regular co-presenter of the ‘Small Business Show’ a syndicated radio program broadcast on a number of stations throughout Ireland and available as a podcast. You can find him on Twitter @ChamberBrian.Share