I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Adult Education

In my earlier discussion about failed businesses, one of the things I did not mention was the importance of continuing education. Let's face it, nobody is the ultimate authority on anything (or at least, they only THINK they are.) I firmly believe that we can always be learning something new - either a refresher of our existing skills, learning some totally new ones, or taking the time to learn about how things could be done differently.

I often hear business owners claim that "all of a sudden" things went downhill. Orders stopped coming, people suddenly did not want to pay as much as they once did, or business has just slowed down. It's a scary time when that happens - the cash flow dries up, you start to panic about paying the bills, you do a whole lot of negative talk - "I can't do this" "I'll never succeed" and so on. I know this, of course, because I've DONE all of it. I'm particularly skilled at self-doubt. The very second something goes pear shaped, in my head I am suddenly a complete failure.

Every once in a while, when I'm feeling worried about the biz, or feeling overwhelmed by mountains of paperwork, I 'treat' myself to some adult education. More often than not it IS business related - a cake decorating class, a small business management class, going to listen to a speaker on a topic I'm interested in, going to check out some new machinery or ingredients, whatever. Without fail, I worry about the money I'm going to spend on that experience. The time I will be "wasting." The inconvenience to my family. The supposedly wasteful nature of time spent in just researching.

...and without fail, I walk out of those experiences thinking, "I CAN do this." "I WON'T fail." "Now I remember WHY I did this in the first place." and the future just seems that little bit brighter. As business owners, I think we get so close to the action - the 'action' being the bottom line - that we sometimes forget why we started in the first place. We also forget the old adage that says, "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got." In other words if you never make the effort to change and grow, while the world (your customers) are changing and growing... well, it's no wonder you'll find yourself discounting and letting people go and cutting your advertising spend.

So - here's my two cents. Go out there. See what there is to learn. I promise you'll find it's very much worth it.

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