Do you know all there is to know about business? No, of course, you don’t and you never will. But you can give yourself a good start. For example:
Go to business school and learn the foundations in setting up an effective business model.
Read everything there is to know about business in the relevant section of your local library.
Train in new skills that will better affect your chances of success in business.
Sit at the feet – literally or metaphorically – of your chosen business guru/mentor and seek as much advice from them as you can.
You will enhance your learning by doing all of those things, especially when starting out on the road in business. However, learning has to continue on a daily basis. Books change, business courses transform with the times, and the lessons of some business gurus can become irrelevant as time passes. You must adhere to the age-old principle that learning never stops – as soon as you think you know everything, you will suddenly discover you know nothing. To an extent, at least. Therefore, follow these practices to keep your learning up to date.
1. Learn through experience and failure. Whether you do something right or make a catastrophic blunder, learn from what you did as you move forward. Some of the greatest leaders have made mistakes, for example – check out this article as proof – but they picked themselves up and took advantage of experiential learning, no matter how difficult it seemed at the time.
2. Learn from your customers. They are the lifeblood of your business, and you must always change with the tide of both customer opinion and their tastes. Customer satisfaction surveys are a starting off point, but you should never stop listening to them. What made them happy yesterday may not be what makes them happy tomorrow. As they change, continue to learn from them.
3. Learn from other businesses. How do they operate? What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? How do they help customers? What technologies are they using? Find the people who impress you in their business practices – we were particularly impressed with bciworldwide.com – and consider those businesses who have a bad reputation – according to a recent survey, these companies are struggling to earn respect – look at the good and the bad and learn from them.
4. Learn from your team. You have a lot of wisdom to offer those who work alongside and beneath you, but what have they got to teach you? There will be those people who have had a different upbringing in the world of business than you. They may have a greater understanding of new technologies and business practices. They may have had training that you have never experienced. Life skills will be different. Talk to them, listen to them, and learn from them.
As soon as you get into the mindset that you know everything, you will come unstuck. Continue to educate yourself in all of the ways we mentioned on a daily basis and you stand a better chance of success in business. As Abraham Lincoln once said:
“I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”