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Sonoma County Gazette
A good time to learn more about running your business.
After the December rush and New Year’s sales could be a good time to learn more about running your business.

A Learning Time of the Year

Nov 28, 2018
by Elizabeth Slater


If after the December rush and New Year’s sales things slow down, it could be a good time to learn more about some of the facets of your business. You could, for instance attend a conference or two, learn about new products that could enhance your business or focus on new ways to market and sell your products. It is a great time to expand your knowledge or, at the least, pick up new ideas, a different way of thinking or even new information on staff relations, management styles or customer engagement.

All you have to do is connect with the ‘Learner’ that is inside each one of us. There lives within us a beginner’s beginner’s mind that we can access. The beginner’s mind allows us to learn without judging ourselves or embarrassment.  Think of babies and small children.  When babies are learning to walk they will get up and fall down so many times it’s astounding.  Yet they never get an attitude. They do not sit there thinking that they will never learn to walk, then refuse to even try until they are forty. They just keep on trying until they can walk.  Small children get frustrated but they don’t give up…that is the beginner’s mind.  Why do we need to cultivate our beginner’s mind?  One word…Business!  Business requires us, on a regular basis, to do more and more things that we may have never done before.

Inside each person is both a Knower and a Learner.  As you get older most people access the Knower part more and more because it is more comfortable and as we do we also access the Learner less and less. Have you stopped being a Learner and become only a Knower?  It is easy to do. That is why the slower time of year is a great time to take a step back and think about the things you might need to learn to make your business stronger.  Or you may choose to learn something just because you would like to. My sister, on the occasion of her fiftieth birthday, decided she was going to learn to play the banjo and she did.  Now, some years later she has three banjos, is exceptionally proficient and plays with three different bluegrass bands. She has also taken up the mandolin now that she feels she has the banjo under control.

When you have the desire to do something, you can do it. It is not that long ago that there was no Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, but most businesses have learned to use these tools to promote their business.  Even if you only have minimal knowledge you can still do it. 

Much of my time each year is spend presenting seminars at conferences, to associations or individual businesses. For me this is a thrilling and rewarding time. While I thoroughly enjoy presenting, the thing I love the most is the research. Even when I am presenting on subjects that I think I know inside out, I find that there is always something new to learn. Catch me in my office and I am furiously researching and writing. The same is true during a break in a seminar I am teaching. You will usually find me hurriedly jotting down things my audience has said. It is not only what I can teach people, it is also what they can teach me. Every time I present a seminar I learn from the people attending. 

Slow times in your business can also be spent visiting your competitors (or having someone do it for you).  Checking out their websites,  Facebook pages, etc. to get an idea what they are doing that you aren’t. Focus on the small things as well as the big ones. 

The important lesson through all of this – be open to learning something new about your business, your methods of doing business or yourself at every opportunity. This motivation to learn will make you and your company more successful and more profitable.  No matter how you choose to learn; through visiting competitors, reading books, signing up for seminars, listening to tapes in the car or through listening to others in the same business; learning is what keeps you energized and enthusiastic about your business. If you are energized and enthusiastic you can pass this energy and enthusiasm along to your employees.  They in turn will pass it along to customers who then promote your business and products to others.  

None of us are never too old (or too young) to learn more.


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