Human Resources

Take Your Small Business Back to School

By Rieva Lesonsky

As parents and students wrap up their summer activities and gear up to hit the books, it may be time to send your small business back to school for a refresher course too. You’ve most likely been consumed with the day-to-day operations—so much so, you could be hurting your business by not keeping up with the latest information in constantly changing fields like technology and marketing.

Here are a few ways to help your small business grow and improve your entrepreneurial skillset at the same time.

  1. College classes

    For the total college experience, nothing beats actually attending classes. Most local colleges offer a variety of classes for anyone looking to start and/or grow a business. Not only will you get the latest information on new methods of doing everything from accounting to marketing and product development, but you could also meet potential partners or employees to join your small business venture. Peruse some college course catalogs to see what classes spark your interest. No time to attend yourself? Consider sending one of your staff members to take a class or two, learn new skills, and bring back the information to your company to share with the others. Here are a few resources to start:

  1. Online classes

    A less time-consuming option than actually attending classes is taking a course online. Weigh the pros and cons of an online college course vs. simply taking a webinar online. With an online course, you’ll get support from an instructor, and you’ll be expected to turn in assignments and contribute to class discussions—which could be more engaging, more informative, and more useful for your needs. A webinar, on the other hand, allows you to watch and listen to the information on your own schedule with just a one-time commitment vs. a series of lessons. Ask fellow business owners for recommendations or search online directories to see what kind of classes and webinars are available. Check out these resources:

  1. Specific small business skills

    Whether you want to improve your public speaking ability, gain new sales skills, or learn how to expand globally, there are companies and for-profit schools ready to offer small business improvement. For example:

  • If you want to learn about exporting, start at export.gov, a U.S. government website where you can download guides, get market intelligence, and find out about exporting educational events in your area.
  • Being able to command a room or even just give a persuasive presentation is a skill most small business owners covet. To improve your public speaking skills, consider joining a Toastmasters Club in your area or go online to publicspeakingclasses.com to find a listing of classes across the country.
  • Alternatively, you can turn to renowned business speakers/coaches like Guy Kawasaki, Rachel Botsman, and Seth Godin. Start by picking up their books, checking out their websites, and then decide if you’d like to attend one of their seminars.

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