Keeping your skills up-to-date, and the importance of learning when you’re self-employed

Learn to love learning and your business will thank you for it. Seriously. I mean if you we’re employed you’d not only do your initial training, but you’d have to keep your skills and knowledge up to date.

Well you need to do that with your business too.

I spent 10 years of my life working in the advice sector, mainly with Citizens Advice, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of training I had.

I went from initial training to learn how to give advice and interview clients to get the right information from them, to topic related training on debt, welfare benefits, consumer and employment problems (and loads more!) I even underwent smoking cessation training and managing suicide risk of clients as part of an NHS contract I was delivering giving advice to patients in GP’s surgeries.

Now I run my own business I don’t ignore my need to keep up-to-date, in fact I love growing my knowledge and passing it on or using it to help others through the advice and training I give.

In the last 3.5 years I’ve spend hundreds of hours (if not thousands) watching webinars and TED Talks, listing to podcasts, reading books and magazines, attending courses, conferences and other events.

 

Learn to love learning and your business will thank you for it Click To Tweet

 

So what can you learn?
Professional development

It’s likely that you’ll want to keep any professional qualifications up to date, or develop new skills as your business grows. You might also find professional magazines and journals helpful in keeping up with trends and new developments for your sector.

Consider any training carefully – are the skills you gain going to be of any value, and will the money and time invested be worth it for your business success?

Business skills

Women generally become self-employed because they love what you do, or they wanted a more flexible work schedule. However, starting a business is a huge learning curve and you suddenly require a ton of extra ‘know how’ such as time management, accounting, website development, blogging, SEO, social media and marketing.

Take the time to learn what you can from those in the know. And whilst it’s great to be able to outsource some of these tasks, it’s still a good idea to have a basic understanding of them.

Personal growth

If you’re the only person (or the leader) in your business it’s important that you do not neglect self-development and personal growth. This includes anything from self care to overcoming deep-seated fear or mindset issues which hold you back.

Again you need to consider any training carefully – maybe you could find what you need from a book rather than formal training? Take a look in your local library or book shop, or head over to Amazon to see what’s available. Or maybe an informal workshop or session can give you what you need? Ask around at networking events to see what’s available locally.

 

Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow. Anthony J. D’Angelo

Learning styles

It’s widely agreed that people learn in different ways – that is, how they take in and retain information to be able to reuse it, and there are several different theories on learning styles. People often find that their learning style is actually a mix, but one style is usually more prominent than the other(s).

Once you understand your learning style it will make it easier for you know how to learn and retain information, and should sway your decisions about choosing the right training. Knowing your learning style might also help demonstrate why you automatically do things a certain way, as often we automatically do things in the way that relates to the style of learning we benefit the most from.

Find your learning style in this simple quiz

Ways to learn

Books are a great way to learn years’ worth of work or study in a much shorter time. Plus Kindle and audio books give good choice for differing learning styles.

Podcasts are a great way to learn informally in bite-size sections on whatever topics you want to. If you’ve got an iPhone take a look at the pre-installed Podcast app, or on Android take a look at the Stitcher app.

Local workshops & courses can be great for one-off’s, and are obviously great for networking too! Take a look at our events to see what workshops we have coming up.

Webinars are usually live (but sometimes pre-recorded) training sessions lasting around an hour or so to teach you about a specific topic. Free webinars tend to have a sales pitch towards the end.

Online courses cover almost every topic imaginable and fit easily around looking after a family and running your business. These can vary hugely in costs from £20-30 up to thousands.

Conferences are great for learning and networking with new suppliers, contacts and potential customers, and they happen all over the world in every industry. Just ask others doing similar work about which are the good ones worth attending, as often they can be a big investment, especially if they involve travel.

Love learning

So what are you waiting for?

…go out there and learn something new!

PS. Did you know that we are hosting a women’s empowerment conference for International Women’s day, 8th March 2018? Get your tickets now for the Her Business, Body & Life Conference – full details here.

 

Ideal Clients: Why They are Important

Last week I ran a workshop at the University of East Anglia on ideal clients which covered what people mean by the term ‘ideal clients’, how you can identify yours, and how this can make an impact to your marketing.

Today I stepped in to talk at our Central Norfolk group after the other speaker couldn’t attend, so I took a small section of this workshop and talked about how you can categorise your ideal client, for example by age, gender, marital status, parental status, job income… even down to things like values.

People then drew their ‘ideal client’ and gave them a name.

Some people find this activity a little awkward, some don’t think there’s any point, and others totally embrace the challenge.

Now this is not about your ability to draw, stick-people are absolutely fine, it’s about identifying that one person you’d like to work with the most, the person who wants what you offer and can afford to pay for it, it’s about building knowledge.

The more you refine who your ideal client might be (and yes it’s fine to have several ideal clients in mind, especially so if you offer different products or services), the more you can get to know them. The more you can identify their needs, address their problems and find them to market to as well.

Getting to know your ideal clients allows you to use the language they use in your social media posts, email newsletters, adverts, on your website, flyers or packaging. To use colours or styles that you know resonate with them, and to promote what you do in the places they are. I mean there’s no point spending £2k on a radio ad campaign if your ideal clients don’t listen to the radio!

There are no hard and fast rules here, and things may change over time so it’s worth reviewing this every year or two, or as your business evolves.

Understanding your ideal clients inside out will help you better market to them, resulting in more sales, and will enable you to address their needs more fully, creating loyal customers who refer others your way too. Win win!

Get your mojo back and love your business

Lost your mojo? Not sure if you love your business anymore?

It can be all too easy to lose focus, drift off from your original plans, get frustrated, be disappointed that things aren’t moving fast enough, lose your mojo and to simply fall out of love with your business.

When you’re self-employed, your business often becomes your life. Sometimes it can be tiring especially if you don’t have any downtime or are going though a rough patch.

So here are some savvy tips to wake up your mojo and help you fall back in love with your small business…

Get focused on the bigger picture

So many women get stuck in a rut after they’ve been running their business for a little while. You need to constantly focus on where you want to go with your business and why are you are self-employed in the first place.

In one of my courses we create a vision board so you know exactly what you’re aiming for. Think about the bigger picture and your long-term goals then work towards them day-in, day-out, in your business.

Think about the bigger picture then work towards it every single day Click To Tweet
Speak to your ideal customers

All too often small businesses are so desperate for someone (anyone) to buy what they sell, that they try marketing to everybody to get whatever sales they can. But that doesn’t always lead to a happy business if you’re serving people you don’t really want to be working with or just don’t relate to those customers or clients.

Think about who you really want to be working with and literally go and chat to them (on and off-line) to find out what they want from your business, get to understand them and their needs, then start talking to them in your marketing and social media posts.

Take time out from your business

When self-employed, especially if you’re the only person in the business, it can be hard to switch off with your mind on your work 24/7.

Self-employment gives you the opportunity to create your own schedule and work flexibly around your family. Use this opportunity to build things you love into your day, week, month and year. Take time out each week for yourself, do things you love, include time for relaxation and exercise to keep your body and mind healthy and strong. This will be reflected in your business as you’ll be more happy when working on it.

Put these into practice, you’ll start loving your business more and get your mojo back.