Technology and innovation drive us. Our lives and businesses are propelled by new technologies, and we are only going to get more dependent on them as we progress.
Luddites, unfortunately, are losing their place in this world. In fact, anyone who does not embrace technology runs a very real risk of being left behind. For small business owners, especially, this is not even a choice anymore. We risk closing shop if we don’t move along with the times!
Here is why you should prioritize continuous learning.
It makes a business more efficient
There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur.
There are endless amounts of easily accessible content on how to combat just about every challenge a startup owner can face. There is also a variety of software aimed at automating tasks, saving time and making every process of running a business considerably smoother.
Account management, virtual workforce management, project management, customer relationship management, human resource management, marketing, client negotiations across time zones – all of these require you to learn some program or the other to meet your business goals. There are also all-in-one business management tools to make a business owner’s life that much easier, but they, too, require you to learn a new technology plus keep up with it as it evolves.
Then there are technical aspects of running a business such as being aware of how to manage a WordPress website, the importance of
The more you know about the above, the better off your business will be in the digital world.
It maintains the competitive edge
Learning and implementing new software and other technologies benefits your business by making it more productive. It also makes a business competitive.
Some people are naturally slow to adapt to new technologies. Some are even resistant. They don’t feel the need to polish their skills and learning beyond what they gained in the college or during a certification. However, failing to keep up with current trends could cost you.
The world of web and mobile, especially, is full of new developments and trends that quickly make obsolete what you learned at school, even if you graduated as late as 2012. One needs to keep up in order to survive.
When you are aware of new trends in web design, for instance, you understand the need to upgrade your own to deliver a better user experience. (For web services providers this is a no-brainer.)
Similarly, if yours isn’t a responsive design, a knowledge of mobile technology trends (if not the technology itself) will tell you how important it is to have one in order to grow your business.
You can’t be fooled by those you hire
Sure, one doesn’t need to find out everything about a new technology if they can hire someone to do the job, but it is not advisable to remain totally in the dark about it either.
You need to be at least semi-conversant with technologies to be able to appreciate or determine if a certain job has been executed well (even if it has been carried out by “experts”), or to understand what went wrong when a project falters or fails.
Technologically-challenged business owners can be easily taken for a ride.
Technology opens new doors
What’s most striking about the business world right now, and especially in the wake of the boom in the mobile app space, is that there seems to be available a technical solution for every need imaginable!
I’m constantly amazed at the mobile apps I keep discovering. This only materialized because someone saw a particular need and had the imagination as well as the technical know-how to execute their idea. And that is not the only way in which technology is driving innovation in business.
Learning about new technologies helps you spot new business opportunities. It need not be anything radical, but it still would be a chance for you to offer something none of your competitors do. That is what businesses should do to stand out in a crowded and competitive space.
How to keep learning – the devil is in the details
As we have grown our own small business over the past five years, we have made it a point to learn new technologies. I don’t have a technical background, but I found that it would help the business if I familiarized myself with certain technical aspects that form the bedrock of digital marketing.
It’s an ongoing process, given how rapidly technology is evolving, and how far-reaching its impacts are.
Here are some suggestions to help you learn the ropes.
#1. Find out the technologies most pertinent to your niche
The tech space can be mind-bogglingly confusing so start with that which is directly relevant to your industry, and more importantly, to your business.
For example, learning to code may not be of much help to a digital marketer, but a knowledge of SEO could prove to be very useful. Learning to code can wait. You will have to decide upon your priorities.
#2. Pay attention to reviews when choosing a platform to master
Learn from the experience of others. This will further refine your search and you can be reasonably assured that you would be spending your time and efforts on a useful tool.
#3. Get started on your own
You don’t need to join a class to learn a new program. Many software vendors these days provide clients with free tutorials and live assistance via Skype video. Make use of it. Consult those in your team who are familiar with the technology for pointers.
#4. Make time for it in your daily schedule
Learning is all about practice, which has to happen on a regular basis (not necessarily daily basis) for it to work. Sticking with a schedule will also make learning less painful.
Start with as little as 30 minutes a week. Within a month you will have made a lot of progress.
#5. Understand what is confusing you
It’s natural to get stuck when learning new things. However, the process becomes easy when you are clear about the basics of how a program works and the problem it is supposed to solve.
All those numerous steps within a software program, they are there for a purpose.
When you get stalled, take notes on what is confusing you. If no one in your team can help, request assistance on Web forums. Address the problem and move on. Don’t proceed with a half-baked understanding of things because that would be a colossal waste of time.
#6. Make learning fun
If something that you must do gets boring, you need to find a fun way of doing it.
It’s like working out. Getting on that treadmill for the much-needed cardio can seem excruciatingly boring a few weeks into your fitness regimen but you know your body needs that aerobic activity.
So you change the playlists, buy new track pants, switch up the routine a bit, but do anything possible to make working out fun.
It’s the same with learning. You need to keep the excitement factor on.
#7. Be patient with yourself!
If you are not naturally fond of technology, it’s not going to be easy to master it. However, this is no excuse to give up. Find a part of technology that you enjoy and build on that. If that doesn’t motivate you, think about your business. You don’t want to be left behind by competitors simply because you did not want to keep up with technology.
The advantages of the beginner’s mind
“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities,” goes an old Zen saying.
Our resistance to learning is mostly psychological in nature. However, we are never too old to learn. In fact, studies show that continuing with learning is one of the best ways of keeping the mind sharp as we get older.
It is exciting to discover new technologies, learn about them and implement them. It benefits our business and our lives. Do you agree?
What is it that you have been holding off to learn? Where do you think your resistance springs from, and what is your plan to conquer it? Leave a comment and let me know!
Images: ”Businessman hand working with a Cloud Computing diagram on the new computer interface as concept /Shutterstock.com“
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