“Once you stop learning, you start dying.”
We’re not aiming to be morbid with this quote by Albert Einstein. However, it illustrates the danger of becoming stagnant in our quest for learning and complacent in thinking that what we know right now is enough.
Over the course of this year, we’ve seen how quickly a business landscape can change. Business owners have had to pivot quickly in order to survive. They’ve been confronted daily with decisions that have the potential to affect their employees, customers, and the trajectory of their business. A mindset of learning and understanding trains a leader to absorb information effectively in order to make educated decisions.
For small business owners who typically wear many hats, continuous learning is especially important.
At Multi Business Solutions, we value growth. We encourage growth, progress, and continuous improvement in individuals as well as in the businesses that we serve. In order to live our values within our own organization, we prioritize learning individually and collectively as a team.
Here are eight ways that we stay engaged in our industry, our clients’ industries, and the world we live in.
1. Read Articles
There’s a wealth of information available to us these days.
Subscribing to a blog is an easy way to keep up on new posts without needing to scour your favorite websites for updates. (We offer this feature!) Natalie finds many blog posts from LinkedIn to be informative. Melanie enjoys the breadth of articles from When I Work, a Minneapolis-based company that helps hourly teams work better together.
Melanie also finds nostalgia in subscribing to the print edition of the Sunday Star Tribune. Her kids enjoy the comics while she gleans writing tips from Gary Gilson‘s column in the Business section.
2. Watch YouTube Tutorials
We all know what it’s like to go down the rabbit hole of entertaining YouTube videos! However, beyond cute kitten videos and funny clips, there are many tutorials, tips and tricks to enhance your knowledge in many areas. A google search for a “how to” question will often return a YouTube video. Watching how something is done is often easier to comprehend than simply reading about it.
Paris not only finds good QuickBooks tips this way, but also fuels her passion for horses by finding how-to videos for training techniques. It’s important to enhance your knowledge beyond work-related topics to your hobbies, too!
3. Listen to Podcasts
Popping in your ear buds while going for a walk or getting chores done around the house is a great way to productively multi-task.
WorkLife with Adam Grant pulls back the curtain on different ways that people around the globe deal with the work-life balance. Wandering Aimfully is a podcast hosted by a quirky but lovable couple who are not afraid to experiment with new ways of doing business. NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me is a fun way to keep up with current events.
4. Enroll in Educational Courses
If you want your business to survive and thrive, you need to stay up-to-date and competitive in your area of expertise. Certain professions require continuing education credits to keep licenses current. Even if you’re not required to do this, challenge yourself to fulfill a certain number of hours of training in an area of your company where there’s potential for growth. Many classes now are virtual, which makes a myriad of classes accessible to anyone across the country or the world!
As QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisors, Natalie and Megan keep up with QuickBooks training in order to maintain their certification. They are well-qualified to share up-to-date information when they hold QuickBooks training classes or when clients call with questions.
As a team, we recently completed a 13-week “Scaling Up” master business course. We learned through a hybrid combination of informative videos, live zoom sessions and mastermind meetings. We clarified our purpose and values, implemented ways to optimize processes, and set our strategy for future growth of our organization.
5. Read a Book
At our monthly staff meetings, we have discussed books (Dare to Lead by Brene Brown was a favorite), as well as different personality types (the Enneagram intrigues us!). We examined the strengths and weaknesses of our different personalities. We dug into how we can move beyond the barriers we often set for ourselves. As we became more vulnerable with one another, we built trust as a team.
Several of our team members independently read business books on a regular basis. They often share information they’ve gleaned with team members in order to bring awareness to a certain issue or to brainstorm new ideas. Reading Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t by Verne Harnish is what prompted Megan to enroll us in the online course. The book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek piqued our interest in his TED Talks.
6. Discover TED Talks
Ready to challenge your thinking about certain issues? Want to hear from a diverse group of speakers who live and work across the globe? As their mission explains, TED’s agenda is to “make great ideas accessible and spark conversation.” And that it will!
At just 18 minutes or less, we’ve watched videos before our monthly staff meetings as a starting point for discussion – like this one by Simon Sinek. Other talks we’ve found thought-provoking are Do Schools Kill Creativity? and Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are.
7. Join an Organization or Network
Every person has a need to belong. We often find our tribe naturally with our family, friends or coworkers. Sometimes, we search for a tribe of people with an interest in a certain niche – a group who understands the challenges and rewards of experiences we’re going through and can help us to grow in certain areas.
Natalie has been a member of Toastmasters International since January of 2012 and has held various VP positions during that time. She’s also a member of the BNI Professional Connections chapter out of Watertown, SD. Since these groups bring members of the community together from a variety of businesses and walks of life, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to network and make connections. Megan is inspired by the group of women she connects with in the Fergus Falls Business and Professional Women group.
8. Learn on the Fly
Sometimes, the best way to learn is to simply take a leap and learn as you go!
Our intern, Jazmine, was quickly absorbed into the culture of our organization as she joined our virtual semi-weekly team check-ins and our monthly staff meetings. One of her responsibilities was to help implement new software for one of our clients. As a high school student, there is no one specific course that would’ve prepared her for the tasks she handled. Being a team player and having a mindset to learn new skills greatly benefited her (and us)!
Change is constant, so we must learn continually in order to adapt and to thrive.
No matter how old we are, we can continue to cultivate a mindset of growth. We stay engaged in the world around us by learning and growing and stretching our minds. When we know that we are equipped to handle what comes our way, we can move forward with confidence.