I know my clients believe in and understand some of the benefits they and their businesses receive by their continued education, but I wanted to have a little chat and outline them a little more plainly. Sometimes we don’t seem to recognise the full benefit of our education and I want you to make the most of your investment.
So what are these benefits?
New skills & techniques
The main reason we seek to further our knowledge and invest in continuing education for our business is to gain new skills or techniques. We see a gap or opportunity in what we know and will learn and aim to fill that.
I’m a big believer in the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know” and so I am to constantly learning new skills. This doesn’t always mean taking a course, though I did last year, it can mean reading a book, watching a documentary, or joining a business group (something I invested in last year and will continue).
One of the groups I joined last year was specifically to broaden my network, one gave me access to a wider network of professionals to help me grow my business, one I joined many years ago (and isn’t a business group but was for a course I did) has resulted in a number of new and ongoing clients.
Continuing my business (and personal) education has always led me to make new connections. Some have become clients, some suppliers, most are now friends. I think it’s important to grow that circle of people around us when we run a small business, don’t you?
New ways of thinking
Other than new skills, continuing education helps us think more broadly or even in new ways about things. Take the course I did last year, it was an SEO course, I’ve done SEO work since 2000 but I also knew that things change and that I needed to brush up on skills and the perceptions I had. Let’s just say that SEO has become a much higher priority to the content I publish than ever before!
The catch with changing your thinking is that we need to be willing and vulnerable enough to make the change. Often, we need to have reached a point where our current way of thinking no longer helps us and so we need to change.
New product or service opportunities
Doing a course, learning new skills, can often mean that we can offer new products or services. Not ripping off the course we’ve just done, but putting in action what we’ve learnt.
A few years ago, I wanted to improve my Facebook Ad skills and I had a number of clients wanting to make the leap from their solid Organic results and leverage them with paid ads, so I did a course. That lead me to being able to run and then move to helping business owners run their own ads. It was a new service I picked up.
Ability to charge a higher price
Learn new skills or deepen your expertise by taking on continuing education for your small business, you’re going to be able to charge more for that.
I’ve experienced this in my own business, but also in corporate. As a graduate I was once told that I was queue jumping and hadn’t done my time to get a pay-rise. Continuing education is doing the time to charge or receive more money for our skills, expertise, and time.
Can focus business on core, becoming the expert
When I signed up for the Facebook Ads training, I did it with the idea that I was going to focus on running a social media agency. (Little did I know then that I found Ad work dead boring) Taking on the course was narrowing the focus on social media.
Much like a nurse becoming a nurse practitioner or a doctor going on to specialise, small businesses can use continuing education to help them position themselves as the expert in their chosen field.
So, with all the pluses growing our expertise can bring, why would I want to give you a word of warning. More often than not, my clients come to me for help knowing how to use psychology to improve their organic social media or to improve their Facebook ads. I teach them and then they do nothing. Quite literally don’t post, don’t run the ad, nada. Their new knowledge holds them back from doing the thing they wanted it to help them achieve.
Don’t let it hold you back
So what are the three main warnings I have for you once you’ve taken the plunge and upped your knowledge for your business?
Yep, starting with the biggie. Imposter Syndrome: not promoting yourself or your business for fear that you will be called out as a fake or a phony.
Perhaps you were told not to speak up, to let someone else have a turn, that you were too big for your boots, or a know-it-all. All of these things can feed a story we tell ourselves that keeps us playing small for fear of being called out. (It’s safer that way, anyway)
When we increase our knowledge or expertise we can worry, especially in the beginning, that we’re not good enough. Or perhaps as you’re being acknowledged as the expert in a field, you worry about not meeting expectations or being called out.
Either way, it’s something you can address and overcome. I’ve got a list of 10 tools I use to overcome Imposter Syndrome and they’re in a free download.
While Imposter Syndrome can be the cause, the result is generally a lack of action. When you’ve invested time and/or money into continuing to grow your knowledge and your business, then you need to action it.
Online course completion rates range from 3 to 13% and university courses have dropped from around 70% in 2000 to almost 60% in 2017. It can’t all be because the course didn’t deliver. I know I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on training and conferences and I always walk away with at least one gem. But there’s one key:
Stay the course and put it into action
Value your knowledge and investment
Also able to be tied back to imposter syndrome, is not valuing your knowledge or the investment you’ve made in your education. You did the course for a reason, now it’s time to reap the rewards. Charge accordingly.
I can tell you, first hand, that it can be nerve-wracking putting something new in place, charging more because you can deliver more, and sometimes believing that you can and do deserve this. Have faith and know that I’m here if you need someone who gets it, who is in?