On any given day, you’re likely to encounter more things that you don’t know than things that you do.
That’s why successful small business owners know that consistent commitment to learning is a key to surviving and thriving in business.
With that in mind, we asked some of our top online sellers how they stayed on top of their games.
They agreed that you need to know three things – business basics, sales and marketing, and your specific industry.
Here’s how they stay on top of it all.
1. Know Business Basics.
The reality of running your own business is rarely as glamorous as the fantasy. Sure, there are those special moments where you truly delight a customer with your passion project.
The rest of the time is focused on balancing your books, researching material costs, and fretting over inventory.
The Small Business Association (SBA) is a treasure trove of useful online information. Organizations like SCORE provide free coaching and mentorship from retired entrepreneurs. And local chamber of commerce organize a variety of events including mixers with other successful small business owners.
Jeannie of McStachio & Co. advises that having a business mentor is a great way to learn and grow as a business owner.
The best resources are the people who’ve already been there, done that, and are now selling the T-shirts. Learn what mistakes to avoid in your new business from the people who’ve already made them.
2. Know Sales and Marketing.
Small business mentorship and peer-to-peer learning are best done in real life. Because it’s so readily available, sales and marketing knowledge is best acquired online in your pajamas.
Let’s be honest, you probably read The DRIVE Blog on your smartphone while drinking your morning coffee — and that’s a great time to brush up on skills or learn something new.
Ongoing education is a crucial part of being a small business owner. Make time to learn and grow and you’ll always have a leg up on the competition.
I previously outlined my favorite small business marketing blogs and will always give an extra shout to Social Media Examiner for beginners and Jay Baer’s Convince & Convert for more advanced marketers.
Also, if you rely especially heavily on a specific piece of marketing software like Mailchimp, be sure to follow their blog for product updates.
3. Know Your Industry.
Small business success is not a one-size-fits-all experience. It’s important to seek out best practices specific to your industry.
A yoga studio owner needs online scheduling app recommendations. A baker needs to understand best practices for shipping baked goods to Phoenix in July.
That is where you derive value from trade publications and organizations, Twitter hashtags and chats, and common interest groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Anna of Custom Crochet subscribes to the American Crochet Association’s Happily Hooked Magazine and is considering joining the Crochet Guild of America.
I’ve found Happily Hooked Magazine to be very helpful for me and my crochet business. They share their expertise in starting your own crochet business, so we don’t have to go through the years of trial and error of figuring this business out.
How to Digest It All without Getting Heartburn.
My former CEO loved using the cliché “drinking from a firehose” when onboarding new hires. Well, staying on top of all this information while also running a small business can feel a bit like drinking from the firehose.
My best input here is to not let the arrival of an email newsletter or an interesting tweet interrupt the flow of your day.
Instead, protect your email inbox by unsubscribing from all those newsletters. Subscribe instead to the sender’s RSS feeds using a free app like Feedly (which, BTW, syncs between your computer and mobile devices).
Also, protect your Twitter feed by unfollowing all those thought leaders and adding them to lists instead.
Then, schedule a time for learning on a daily or weekly basis. That’ll keep your days productive and you brain – and successful small business – growing.