Most of us have heard of the term ‘lifelong learning’ in some capacity, whether that be in connection to continuing education, or to learning a new skill in later life. It basically means that it’s some form of education or learning that you, yourself, have decided to take on. But what does this mean in the context of running a small business? And why is it that lifelong learning is the key to small business success?
Learning successes so far
I have never been the type to stand still, or accept the easy otion, just because I already knew how to do it. I like to be challenged, and so I am most definitely a lifelong learner. For my first degree, I decided to study Russian because I wanted to be challenged outside of the traditional Latin/Romance languages. I took on (and achieved a Distinction in) a Masters degree whilst working full time. Next came a course in social media management whilst juggling a young child.
But learning isn’t just about formal education or training. It’s also about learning from the people we meet along the way. For example, I learn confidence from working with my lovely Chloe. My Mum, one of the strongest women I know, teaches me to be the same. And my Grandad, who in his free time, made toys for children who had very little, but did so whilst having a disability from birth, taught me to think of others and to give back whenever I can.
In Chloe, I have a business partner who shares my love of learning, we have the opportunity to encourage others along the same path.
Where learning meets small business
When Chloe and I first created Tabono, we always knew that learning was going to be a key part of everything we did, both as business owners ourselves, and through the support we provide to women who work with us. Why? Because learning is absolutely the key to small business success!
Learning means you never stand still
When you run a small business, it’s absolutely crucial that you don’t stand still whether that be in relation to your products or services, or what you post on your social media. If you do, if you always do the same old thing and never keep up with what your customers are looking for, they will move on without you. And you will lose them.
So whatever you’re doing, keep it under review. Take time out to reflect. The knowledge and learning you gain from doing so is key to small business success. By always seeking to improve, you make sure you’re always meeting your customers’ needs. That you’re working efficiently and effectively. That you have the insights that you need to be able to grow.
Learning means acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers
This is a pretty vital one in my view. As small business owners, none of us know absolutely everything that we need to know about running our businesses. ‘But I can outsource…’, you might say. And you’d be right! But rather than outsource something and then ignore it, why not learn from the person that you’re outsourcing to?
Take our accounts, for example. Neither Chloe and I are big fans of the numbers, of putting together big spreadsheets or of Maths in general! And the easiest thing would be for us to hand the whole thing over to our accountant, sign things when required and just leave her to sort it all out for us. Trusting her to let us know when there are any issues. Basically, ignoring things unless required.
But instead, we chose to learn from her along the way. By taking an interest in what she was doing for us, and more importantly why she was doing it (and asking a good amount of questions along the way!), the value it created for us was immense. Working with and learning from Emma meant that ‘the numbers’ and ‘The Big Spreadsheet’ (note the capital letters on that!) earned a place squarely at the heart of our business strategy and how we run our business as a whole.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m still not a fan of numbers, and this is one of the aspects of business that I find most difficult. But by choosing to learn from our accountant and work with her, rather than just have her work for us, Tabono is so much the better for it. So whether we’re talking about a mentor, a colleague, a collaborator or a customer – if they have more experience in something, talk to them about it. Learn from them. There’s so much value to be gained from doing so.
Learning opens doors
To me, the third reason why learning is key to small business success is because it can open doors. By showing that as a business owner, you’re committed to learning and development, you’re also showing that you’re committed to excellence. To delivering a quality product or service. And that you want the best for your business and your customers. A great example is one of our very own members, Auriol Langbridge of HR FiiT, who recently achieved her Fellowship of the CIPD.
In addition to this, you never know who you might meet when you’re undertaking some form of learning. The person you sit next to at a training event might have the key to taking your business to the next level. Your next mentor might be waiting to cross your path at that conference you booked. Someone in your network might be poised to make that introduction you’ve been waiting for.
Learning: The Tabono way
So what about you? What does your commitment to lifelong learning look like? If you’re reading this as a female small business owner, you’d be very welcome to come and learn with us! There are a number of mechanisms available to you:
- The members of our community support each other and share knowledge and experience.
- Our network of preferred suppliers are ready to support you and your business with their specific skills and expertise.
- The exclusive Facebook group is open for you to ask questions and seek advice and support, whenever you need it.
- Our events and workshops are designed to support both members and the broader small business community with their learning and development.
- For those wanting individual support, you can choose to work with Chloe and I through our coaching and mentoring programme
If you would like more information on any of the above, just get in touch! But either way, we wish you every success on your learning journey. Do stop by and share it with us when you can! You can also check out our Definitive Guide to Starting a Small Business.