Having a business idea is just one step towards launching your own business. It isn’t the first, and it isn’t the last. Just as a novelist won’t be able to write out and publish their first draft, you also need to invest in plenty of behind-the-scenes work to create a robust business idea. More importantly, however, you need the knowledge and the skills to succeed.
Lifelong learning is an excellent place to get started with your efforts. Having a great idea means nothing, after all, if you don’t have the understanding of how to manage your business, how to market your business, and how to keep your business on top. There are so many places to draw ideas and inspiration from, so use this guide to help build your lifelong learning approach before you launch so that you can properly guide and direct your business into a success.
Lifelong Learning and Where to Start
Every successful businessperson in history was committed to lifelong learning. After a point, it stops feeling like actively trying to learn and more keeping up to date. Reading reports, doing research, attending conferences, listening to talks – all of these are modern means to learn.
Being committed and passionate about learning can take you a long way, but if you are looking to kickstart your efforts and to build a solid knowledge foundation that will allow you to first learn the rules so that you can then break them later, these are some excellent places to start:
With an MBA
A Masters of Business Administration degree is the perfect way to learn how to manage and grow a business. There are so many different concentrations, allowing one to learn the basics of business management and fundamentals in accounting, finance, business intelligence, or often health sector management.
This assumes that you already have an academic background in your field. It doesn’t matter what that background was in. You could have been an art major or a drama major and still benefit from an MBA. In fact, the further afield your bachelor’s degree, the more useful an MBA will be to you now.
Think of your existing academic experience as your specialization and your MBA as the bridge between your passion and your business.
Where you get your MBA, however, will make the biggest difference possible. You will need to find an accredited institution like Suffolk University in Boston. Accredited degrees have gone through several rounds of quality checks and are also internationally recognized, allowing you to get the most out of your degree.
Why get an MBA online at Suffolk University? There are several reasons, from it being 100% online, part-time, and manned by professional and academic experts. Student success advisors, thriving alumni and business network, and a degree that has been designed for you are a few of the reasons to invest in an MBA with such an international focus.
With Short Courses
There are many online, short courses that are often only an hour or two a week and can be finished in a month. These courses are not necessary, but they can give you some really interesting ideas that are set to change the way you do business.
For example, by taking short introductory courses to different cultures, or even language primers, you can better communicate to and market to customers from various backgrounds. You can learn the basics of sustainability or how other businesses have addressed specific challenges and adapted.
There is value in all knowledge, of course, so don’t feel limited in what you learn in these online courses. They are free and should be fun. They are more to round out your knowledge set so that you can draw in inspiration from new areas to help you create a business that is innovative and creative.
At Talks, Workshops, and Conferences
To help keep on top of what you learn during your MBA, you will want to go to talks, workshops, and conferences on a fairly regular basis. This way, you can learn from other professionals directly. You also get the chance to network and meet some truly interesting people.
This can be done both in person and online. Online conferences have come a long way thanks to the pandemic, allowing a more natural, engaging digital platform for people to hear from experts and meet others through digital mixers. They won’t ever replace in-person events for the context and overall experience, but the option means that you can attend more events regardless of where you are based.
By Staying Up to Date with the News
If you want to succeed in business, then the most important way to continue to learn is by staying up to date with the news. This isn’t just to stay on top of changes to the regulations that affect your business but to also keep track of the trends and big up-and-comers in your industry.
Being able to innovate and change with the times is one of the most crucial aspects to successfully growing a company. It is physically impossible to keep the same business model forever. Even the oldest institutions have had to innovate, and even then, longstanding businesses are still at risk of being replaced by a new, more innovative player.
Staying up to date will help you direct your business to the future, so get in the habit of reading or listening to the news on a regular basis. Put together a list of resources you enjoy. These can include newspapers, specific magazines, podcasts, and more.
By Reading Journals and Reports
Academic journals can help you understand key parts of society and how they have changed. There are many business journals, sociological journals, psychology journals, and more that will be of interest to you. There is also the possibility of getting these journals for free by getting in touch with the authors directly or alternatively using a free search engine where they have already been published for free for anyone.
Reports are another key source of information. They will often look intimately at either your industry, your field, or your customer demographic to help you understand with a statistical viewpoint where your industry and where your business should evolve.
Building A Robust Business Plan
A good business plan is not long, but it will have plenty of research and contextual understanding behind it. You don’t want to overcomplicate your business plan when you get started because the best-laid plans often fall to ruin. Give yourself flexibility by keeping things simple.
Some ways in which you can prepare, beyond the advice outlined in the previous section, is to find and plan out which tools and resources your business will use. Finding the right software and management systems is one of the most crucial things you can do. With the power of cloud computing, you can choose a solution that will serve you well even as you grow since most cloud-based applications are flexible. This flexibility will allow you to seamlessly grow, but if your system is clunky and ill-fitted for your business plan, then you will need to start from scratch.
This is just one example, of course. Your business plan should cover your business model, your suppliers, your location, who you need to hire, your marketing approach, your demographic, and so on. Having a clear idea of your business is the best way to sell it, so plan it out accordingly and know that there is a limit to how prepared you can be. Eventually, you will need to take the plunge.
What to Remember When Building Your Business
You can have a very complex, very engaging business idea. Your business plan includes multiple product ranges and services. It could be inspiring. It could be innovating. It could work to completely break and reinvent your industry as a whole. Trying to do it all at once when you first launch, however, is just asking for trouble.
Think of your business in stages. You need a solid foundation that continues to support every effort and plans you have for your business. Only once that foundation is in place can you then work to build the second level, and only once that is stable can you build the third level.
This isn’t a bad way to build up your company, either. It means that you can continue to evolve and grow after your launch. You will better understand what your customers want and what business opportunities are available to you.
Not only that, but evolving in this way is an excellent way to continue to offer new value to your existing customers. This way they have reasons to return and come back to your company. This also gives them tangible reasons to follow your journey online.
Say you wanted to open a bookstore. The standard format of a bookshop is a decent place to start, and once you are open, you can then open a book club, and then from there can host workshops or other events. This is just one simple way that you can organically build on the structure of your business.
The ways you evolve may be pre-planned, or you may develop new ideas that were only apparent after your launch. If you are stretched too thin, too soon, however, you will never be able to build a stable structure and be capable of growing in truly innovative ways.