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Your competitive edge: self-education

Self-education is easy to put on the back burner, right? It is likely that you’ve already been through years of formal education and are armed with all the certifications you’ll ever need. Trust me when I say I understand if you feel this way. It probably feels impossible to prioritize self-education on top of all the other responsibilities that come with running your own business. But what if you flip the script? What if you look at self-education as an opportunity to better serve your customers or clients? What if it provides your business with that competitive edge you’ve been searching for? While most of us can agree that self-education is important to our businesses it isn’t always easy to find the time or motivation. Here are six practical steps to set yourself up for success when it comes to self-education.


1. Know what you want

What information or skills would you like to learn? What knowledge would help you to better serve your customers or clients and give your business that competitive edge? Having a clear idea of the “what” and “why” of learning will help you to stay motivated.


2. Don’t try to do it all

The reality is this - you’re never going to be able to learn everything and that is okay. Success often comes in bite-sized pieces that are easily repeatable. Focus on smaller sections of knowledge until you feel like you’ve grasped what it is you set out to learn. Marginal gains in knowledge can often lead to much greater outcomes (case in point - the theory of marginal gains and the British cycling team).


3. Make it fun

Learning isn’t restricted to a formalized or rigid structure. We are living at a time where there are so many different ways to access information - whether that be a self-paced online course, an online community forum, YouTube video, podcasts, books, etc. Find out what kind of medium you enjoy learning in and roll with it or mix it up if that suits you.


4. Learn from experience

There is so much that we learn through our own experiences. What have you learned that can be successfully repeated? Or what are some “learning the hard way” experiences you’d rather not repeat? Beyond that, think about what you can learn from the experiences of other business owners within and outside of your industry.


5. Seek mentorship and guidance

Think about people you admire in your personal life, professional life, and the business world at large. What can you learn from them and apply to your own business? If you don’t already have a mentor make a list of all the people in your professional circle or even those in your personal circle that are in business of their own. Having somebody in your corner to bounce business ideas, questions, and concerns off of is invaluable.


6. Reflect on what you’ve learned

Knowledge doesn’t hold much power if you don’t make the time to reflect on what you’ve learned. You need to create space to digest what you’ve learned. How will you apply said knowledge to your business? Do you want to dive deeper into a certain topic? Sometimes we fall into a trap of thinking that learning is about memorization or stuffing our minds with as much new information or ideas as we can. In reality, a lot of our best thinking comes during those moments when we give ourselves the time to reflect and absorb what we’ve learned.

 

Embracing a mindset involving a life-long learning will benefit you both personally and professionally. Why does learning have to stop once we leave school? Especially given the fact that you have more choice in what you get to learn now as opposed to your school days. The drive to discover new information will help you to develop novel ideas that could very well bring your business to that next level.


If you’re a business owner with questions about taxes on your self-employment income and trying to figure out how to pay yourself, check out our course: How Much Can You Pay Yourself from your Business and Plan for Taxes. You will learn how to set up your business properly, forecast revenue, and compute your estimated tax liability. This course is perfect for those starting their self-employment journey or those that are wanting to better understand how to estimate their tax liability.


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