I love learning new stuff and it saddens me when I come across business owners and directors who stop learning and become ineffective. If you plan well, gathering business knowledge may cost you little but your time and it’s often fun too.
Be informed by newsletters
Letting technology inform you is so much easier than hunting for what you want. Many websites offer to e-mail daily or weekly tips. If you are innovative, you may even use the RSS (really simple syndication) services from many search engines (like Google) to feed news to your desktop and to tell you when relevant content is posted.
Share common concerns with peers
Those worthwhile organisations that charge you annual dues can often provide learning opportunities, particularly if you get involved with the local branch. So why not work on shared ideas with peers in your professional community?
Where you work alone, why not gather a group of like-minded people to help each other? Your skill is probably someone else’s Achilles heel so you can gain while sharing your issues and needs.
The quangos (quasi-non-government organisations) tasked with economic regeneration also offer skill development activities – usually subsidised by your taxes. This can help to push your business concerns into the awareness of local and central government too.
Make contacts through training
Ask your suppliers if you can fill otherwise empty seats on their training programmes – this costs nothing and builds useful relationships with them and their other customers.
Likewise, invite your customers to join your training programmes – against the fee you pay, you may get additional orders.
Keeping your body and mind fit
Working with schools provides countless opportunities, from teacher mentoring to student project work. Surprise yourself by the ideas you gain when you help others.
Find someone independent to take an interest in your career and personal growth. A mentor or coach would help you focus your energy and development at little cost.
Of course, learning is wasted if not applied. So walking the dog might give you the space to think how to apply your new knowledge and reinforce fresh skills.