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6 Cost-Effective Professional Development Strategies For Overwhelmed Entrepreneurs

by maria
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Abbi Head – The Visuals Adviser

Creating a mindset focused on self-improvement and growth to get a competitive edge as an entrepreneur involves continual professional development to bridge the skills gaps, build confidence and gain credibility.

PHOTO CREDIT: Annie Johnston Photography

Learning becomes more personally meaningful as an entrepreneur, regardless as to whether it is formal or informal, simply because it is driven by self-direction and motivation. Professional development enables entrepreneurs to gain skills and knowledge through information, reflection, evaluation, application, and analysis to embed its value long term. As a qualified graphic designer with a Postgraduate Certificate, I understand the power of education and personal development as I start-up my new business in the creative world of marketing and PR. In the past three years I have discovered six key learning opportunities which impacted upon me emotionally, upgraded my mindset and changed my behaviour, forever.

What is professional development?

Rather like detecting the gaps in the market filled by our products and services, there are skills gaps which we experience within us that need resolving. In this way professional development offers a “value proposition” that we buy into. By gaining a combination of sought-after qualifications, relevant experience and self-education, learning can be fast-tracked and flow more naturally. Here are six cost-effective learning opportunities that could change your life and give you that competitive edge.

1.   Business coaching

I began my journey with group business coaching online in 2018 and it soon became obvious that the main barrier restricting me from creating a successful business was myself. As I reset my money mindset, challenged my past, my beliefs and core values I became less overwhelmed and maintained my feelings of excitement as I updated my skills and knowledge in all areas of my business. As my business connections grew, I met more life coaches and discovered my best combination of learning styles. My preferred learning included a balance of how-to videos, peer-grouping, imitation, reading, audio recordings and taking handwritten notes. A year with a good business coach can keep you accountable and motivated. It can also be cost-effective in the long term because growth is accelerated and has a direct impact on sales and productivity.

2.   Webinars

With so many people providing “How-To” content, free webinars are inevitable. Watching a webinar, I can see if I share the same values as the host and whether I know, like and trust the information that they are giving me. This learning format can initially feel a little overwhelming and a mass of additional information can be shared. This is because a webinar can be a sales opportunity and include not only the introduction and some short-win core content, but also the offer at the end. Webinar producers know that they can be the bedrock of their multimillion-dollar business, so it is in their interest to give massive value and build connections. Free webinars also make great opportunities for “just-in-time” learning because you will be attracted to a webinar when the need arises rather than having a dedicated time and date.

3.   Intuitive Button Pressing

Whether it is a piece of software on or offline for website building, business banking, a creativity tool, productivity app or social media, entrepreneurs need to learn how to take risks and press buttons without consciously thinking about how to do it – this is known as using their “intuition”. The skill comes with practice and gaining an understanding of where certain key elements might be. Software is often based on the same principles from similar systems that are well known to the user making it seem more intuitive. Using technology is an important skill for my Continual Personal Development (CPD) as no-one wants to be left behind. Using technology can help me to speed up learning and make the process more fun. As entrepreneurs we learn to take the leap and experiment. Regardless of the technology, knowing that there is a backup enables us to learn by intuitive trial and error.

4.   Immersion

No-one can attend a Tony Robbins event such as Unleash The Power Within (UPW) without fully immersing into the process. Since then, repetition has enabled me to memorize and master the wealth of information that I received on a subconscious level. Spending three days with literally thousands of people online in March 2021 changed my life and business beyond recognition. I have attended several free online events similar to this which eventually compelled me to create my own self-education course called, “How To Design Your Business Plan Like An Art Project.” This course is part of a Self-Education Revolution, a term coined by Dean Graziosi during “Project Next.” He described educators as bridge builders and many people like me have joined Mastermind.com to do just that. There are other free online courses available which provide “cramming” opportunities such as this, so it is a good idea to get subscribed to the email lists of successful entrepreneurs such as this for these events.

5.   Peer-grouping

I surround myself with like-minded people who are driven as I am, dedicated to making an impact, empowered by the knowledge they have and ambitious to achieve personal satisfaction as an entrepreneur. This creates a “mindset collective” that can make learning a shared activity. Pooling our skills and knowledge builds a culture of self-improvement and growth where everyone can improve basic knowledge and turn it into more advanced and complex practices. Learning together also encourages team spirit, where support and nurturing is important to the dynamics of the group.  Networking online has been particularly popular in 2020-21 providing me with many opportunities to listen to educational and inspirational speakers on various topics from among my own connections. Peer-grouping also makes it possible to trade skills which can be very cost-effective.

6.   Reading

Whether it is in print or online reading can be one of the most effective forms of learning and personal development. Every day we are bombarded with thousands of opportunities to take in information that will Improve our capabilities and that can be used in a variety of applications. Reading is one of the best ways I teach myself new things as I would in a traditional classroom. Reading helps me to stay focused and remain intentional about what I learn and how I practice it. Some of the best things to read about include leadership skills, creativity in business, problem-solving techniques, the power of effective communication, how to resolve conflicts and obviously your own industry knowledge etc. The internet is a free commodity with many search engines, social media is a valuable source of information, Kindle books can be relatively inexpensive, and the newspapers and magazines can give us even more insight into current knowledge. Personal development is not a one-day course building knowledge it needs to reach the entrepreneur on a deeper level.

Making a habit of professional development and recording achievements can help to boost self-esteem, set further goals, and find opportunities to develop in the future by uncovering further skills gaps. As entrepreneurs we learn at your own pace and let the seed of curiosity develop. This is crucial to keep up with the latest developments in your industry and making sure your qualifications are up to date. Whether it is traditional classroom learning, online courses or other self-education, personal development is an ongoing process. Why not unlock your professional future and enjoy the process?