Learning how to run a business is much like learning any other set of skills in life. If you know how to change a car tyre, you’re less likely to have to call out for a puncture to be repaired. The same logic applies to your limited company. The more you understand and can handle confidently yourself, the less you need to spend on sourcing help from outside.
When it comes to upskilling, the benefits go far beyond just financial, though. Tempting as it may be to leave the complex work to the techies, expanding your knowledge in that area can actually help you to make better decisions, spot opportunities, and stay ahead of the competition.
That said, before you drop what you’re doing to start a crash course in coding, stop: upskilling doesn’t necessarily have to take up all your time and energy. There are simple changes you can make to your daily processes which will allow you to upskill gradually alongside your everyday tasks. Keep reading for a few practical ways that you can upskill the easy way.
Simplify things with the right apps and tools
When it comes to business tech, even a small amount of knowledge can go a long way. In fact, one of the biggest trends in the world of startups currently is the growing number of non-technical entrepreneurs starting highly technical businesses. New, easy-to-use tools that simplify and streamline things like coding and app development are largely responsible for driving this trend.
Our guide to apps illustrates how even the smallest of startups can develop their own mobile applications to better connect with online customers. Likewise, finding out just how user-friendly WordPress can be to a small business could lead you to develop your very own website. Taking the time to understand the tools that are out there may net unexpected rewards, as well as helping your startup become much more self-sufficient.
Stay in control of your business
As a startup starts to grow, tasks and processes tend to be allocated to individuals and departments. As the business owner or entrepreneur, you could respond to this in one of two ways: either let the department heads get on with it without any material input from yourself, or work to oversee what’s happening in those areas.
There’s a lot to be said for taking the latter approach. It’s not necessarily about understanding the full technical reasons behind each and every decision made by your IT team or your stock control manager; however, knowing enough about what they do to understand how and why those decisions were made can han help you piece together your company’s overall direction. Upskilling can, therefore, help you stay in control of what’s happening across the entirety of your business.
Invest in tech: make the right decisions
There is likely to come a time when you need to update your current technology. Whatever your field, there could be numerous valid reasons: providing more data storage, keeping track of a growing customer base or just making it easier and safer for your staff to work remotely.
This can often involve a sizeable investment, and consequently some big decisions to make. Upskilling can help to arm you with the knowledge you need to make the right choices. Are you being offered services that are simply irrelevant to your real needs? Is there a better alternative available to the software bundle you are being persuaded to buy? Upskilling can help you see through the sales pitch and make the right investments for your company.
Get a better understanding of your customers and market
As a startup owner, the big decisions about what products and services to carry, your pricing structure, and the markets to target all remain your responsibility. Upskilling, especially when it comes to being able to use key business tools, can give you greater insight into many of these areas.
As one example:
A customer relationship management (CRM) platform makes it easier to handle orders and keep track of communications with customers. Once you get to grips with the software, however, it can also provide you with a host of strategic insights. These include reports on who your most valuable customers are, their buying behaviour, and what causes them to become repeat customers. These kinds of insights make for more informed strategy, which in turn results in increased profitability.
Likewise, once you learn how to use tools such as Google Analytics, you can get a better idea of who your customers and online visitors are. This includes where they are based and the aspects of your business that seem to resonate with them. These insights aren’t useful solely within the context of relationship management or customer research. This is genuinely valuable information that can inform your company’s direction even outside of these specific fields.
Upskill as a team
If you already have a team around you, simply allocating some time to hold group knowledge-sharing sessions can pay dividends. Doing so enables you to talk over and demystify unfamiliar areas or fields. This can be valuable not just for yourself but for the business as a whole. It’s also a great way of promoting an understanding of the importance of each other’s roles.
Local chambers of commerce and business groups are also useful for anyone looking to upskill. Events and talks in which guest speakers are invited to share their knowledge are common. As well as picking up new knowledge, these can also provide a valuable networking opportunity.
What are the options?
For more specialist or in-depth learning and upskilling, formal higher and further education is one possibility; however, it isn’t your only option. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) can be ideal for busy startup owners. They allow you to dip into specialist learning without the need to complete an entire programme of studies.
Our learning resources are designed to give you the lowdown on all aspects of running a business. If you’d like to know more about how to get more out of your workforce, upskilling, or just optimising your business practices, then feel free to check out our help centre. If you’re a startup owner, or plan on becoming one in the future, we’re confident there’s something there for you.
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