Being the boss of your own company doesn’t give you an excuse to stop learning. If you are going to stay ahead of the competition, you have to exist in a constant state of research. The best business owners never stop thinking, planning, and talking about the state of their industry.
No matter how experienced you are, you can never know everything. Even the richest men in the world look for ways to grow. Here are four habits of smart business owners:
1. Smart Business Owners are Always Learning
Learning never stops for smart business owners. They attend conferences where they listen to seminars from other people in their industry. They attend workshops to learn new skills.
Even if you don’t have the money to travel to conferences and workshops like a rockstar CEO, you can still take online training courses to keep learning. You can learn anything, from negotiation skills training to a niche skill like how to use 3D Printer. Online courses come in all formats, but most allow you to learn at your own pace, at whatever time of the day you have time.
We take online courses all over the place, from Lynda.com to MIT. Think of them like “mini-courses” instead of full-blown semester-long courses like you took in college. There are a lot of certificate programs online, too, but do your research before committing to one. Make sure the certificate is worth something to other people in your industry.
2. They Outsource Professional Advice
Smart business owners hire consultants. The truth is, even if you’re a super genius, your business is going to grow to the point that you can’t do every single task alone. You need professional advice from financial advisors and legal advisors, at the very least.
You can find consultants for absolutely anything. Our parent company, Escape the Classroom, consults with corporations, colleges, schools, and even homeschool parents on learning topics from how to engage modern learners to crafting transcripts for homeschool students. Perfectly Employed offers both individual and corporate career coaching sessions.
Hiring a consultant is a great way to both learn from an expert and broaden your network. In a lot of cases, you can barter services with consultants if your business offers something their business needs. For example, if you build WordPress templates you might redesign your legal consultant’s website in exchange for legal advice.
3. They Hire Smart Employees and Learn from Them
Structuring your team is the most important thing you will ever do as a business owner. Good employees aren’t subordinates—they are teammates. They become like family for a small business owner. The trick to hiring good teammates is to hire people you respect for their skills and intelligence, and take their advice when they offer it.
A good team of employees are like built-in consultants. They should feel free to propose new ideas and teach you about the things they know an continue to learn. Respecting your employee’s knowledge also makes them more loyal to you, which again, is like building a family.
4. Smart Business Owners Read Constantly
If you spend any time at all studying the habits of the world’s richest CEOs, you’ll see they all have one thing in common: They read.
If you don’t know what to read, check out Bill Gates’ seasonal reading lists or UpLead’s list of 37 sales books. You should also read reviews in finance magazines for recommendations. Steer clear of books more than 10 years old (other than The Art of War and How to Win Friends and Influence People—the classics never die). Try to read multiple sources so that you’re always getting a good cross-section of advice on a topic – it’s easier to trust an opinion shared by multiple people than it is to trust an opinion held by one source.