Learning is a lifelong process, especially if you're an entrepreneur or small business owner. Whether you learned the ropes in college or settled for a little trial and error, there's always room to improve the skills you've acquired over the years. Taking time out to improve your existing skills or even to learn new skills can have a transformative effect on the way you conduct business at many levels.
But if you want to learn a new skill or polish your recently-acquired skills, you'll want to know how you can get the most out of your learning experience.
Identify Your Current Strengths and Weaknesses
When it comes to choosing a new business skill to learn, you'll need to know where your strengths lie, as well as your most glaring weaknesses. For instance, you could be a natural at public speaking, but terrible at writing or email etiquette. Once you have all of your strengths and weaknesses identified and outlined, you'll be able to tackle the challenges of developing and improving those skills.
Pick One or Two of Your Most Needed Skills
With dozens of practical business skills that you can potentially hone through online courses, the possibilities are genuinely endless. But there's only so much you can focus on, especially if it's your first time with online learning. Trying to learn all of the skills you need at once can be a recipe for disaster.
Instead of trying to cram as much knowledge as possible, you should start out with only one or two of the most important skills you want to learn. This way, you won't feel overwhelmed as you complete your interactive courses.
Find a Reputable Online Program
When learning a new business skill online, make sure you're learning from seasoned experts who have the background and knowledge in the skills you're interested in. Always check the background of the organization you're taking online courses from.
Also be aware that many reputable organizations are willing to spread their knowledge without requiring any fees or tuition. Other companies may charge a nominal fee to provide in-depth information that may not be found in a free session.
Create Manageable Goals for Yourself
Each day you spend learning your new skill should come with a specific yet manageable milestone attached. Such goals should be achievable over the course of your learning, but also challenging enough to make achieving that goal satisfying and worthwhile.
Creating a manageable goal often means breaking up larger goals into smaller chunks that can be completed at different points. If your goal is to learn a new language, for instance, you should set a goal to learn at least 50 to 100 new words each day instead of attempting to learn thousands of words in a single sitting.
Take Advantage of Certificates
For coding, writing, and many other specific skills, many online course providers offer certificate programs that give you an opportunity to brush up your resume while learning valuable skills. Earning a certificate in a specific area can help open doors to new job opportunities and career paths. Some providers even offer a specialization track that focuses intensely on a specific skill, giving you greater in-depth knowledge and a credential that also looks good on your resume.
Have a Little Patience
New skills don't come easily, but many people expect to be instantly knowledgeable in their chosen subject area. It can take time to acquire a new skill—20 hours just to become competent in one area and up to 10,000 hours in order to master a particular subject. So have a little patience, and don't kick yourself if it takes you a little longer to fully grasp the subject in question.
You should also take advantage of the power of repetition. Don't hesitate to conduct self-drills on core subject matter until you're confident that you have it down pat. Patience combined with repetition can help you learn even the most challenging skills in due time.