I’ll be the first to admit that the vast majority of knowledge and skills I use on a daily basis in my small business are self-taught. Yes, I have a degree in agricultural communication. Yes, I took classes in graphic design, photography and more. No, I did not learn everything I needed in life from those classes. They were building blocks that laid a foundation for me to build upon but a foundation only gets you so far, you have to add to it. As I continue to grow, expand and add more to what I offer, my knowledge base has to grow with it. While I’m a firm believer in Google searches and YouTube tutorials, sometimes that just isn’t enough and I think that’s where many small businesses struggle. As a small business owner, your time is precious, there’s a limited number of hours a day that you have to get things accomplished. However, don’t let that be your excuse for not working to continue your education. It was mine for a long time. I had this customer’s website to work on and that decal order to finish, I didn’t have time to do that Udemy course on Wordpress or sign up for that webinar on increasing my Etsy traffic. It’s so easy to excuse your way out of taking the time to further your education but you’ve got to keep in mind that any time you commit to continuing your education and expanding your skills you add value to your business. From the increased efficiency of finding a new way to do something to adding a new service you didn’t even realize you had the equipment for there is tremendous potential for growth if you’ll just commit the time to do it.
I learned this first hand two weeks ago when I attended my first NBM show. It’s all about making t-shirts, awards and similar things, all information that’s right up my alley. I thought I had my t-shirt game figured out. I thought I was limited to heat press vinyl only shirts unless I wanted to drop $12,000 on a garment printer or $16,000 on a screen print set up (neither of which did I have the funds or space for) or have them made by a 3rd party. After a couple people encouraged me to check out the show, which was totally free to sign up for, I decided it couldn’t hurt to go even if all I did was drool over all the fancy equipment I couldn’t afford. I went not expecting much but instead the first 45 minutes completely changed my t-shirt game. One free presentation from a company I’d bought a few things from in the past bought to light a whole new potential for my t-shirt business I didn’t know was possible. In the end I spent two days in Arlington at a free conference and learned more about the t-shirt world than I had in the last year of trying to figure it out on my own. I took the time to continue my education and the value that it has added to my business is incredible. In my one room shop in Lingleville, Texas, I can do screen print shirts. I’ve got everything already, no $16,00 required, I just needed someone to show me how to do it.
Don’t let time be an excuse, make an effort to continue your education. As a small business owner, you’re only adding value to what you already have invested with your business. Online, over the phone, in person, the delivery doesn’t matter, the education does.