If you want to destroy your small business, stop learning and start dying. As a leader of a small business when you and your leadership team stop learning it’s the death knell for your business. The belief that sticking with the ways of doing business you’ve always done will lead to a time where those methods are no longer viable, just ask Blockbuster, Polaroid, or Borders. The only thing that is constant in small business is change, and if you don’t keep up with the changes in your industry, you’ll soon be passed by and eventually forgotten. So, where does learning begin? It starts with you.
You Can’t Know it All So Don’t be One
It’s impossible for any one person to know everything and that holds true for a small business as well. So, do you believe you know everything about your small business? You just might, but it also might be that your accountant, attorney, insurance carrier, marketing manager, installation crew, and facility maintenance crews know things you don’t. So, stop talking and start listening. Quit telling and begin asking. You never know what you might learn. You don’t know what you don’t know. If you want to destroy your small business keep believing that you know it all.
The 5 Hour Rule
Have you heard of this? It’s something Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey ascribe to. It’s a simple plan—commit to five hours of learning per week. One hour a work day. The five-hour rule isn’t new, it was Ben Franklin’s plan, “Throughout Ben Franklin’s adult life, he consistently invested roughly an hour a day in deliberate learning. I call this Franklin’s five-hour rule: one hour a day on every weekday. Franklin’s five-hour rule reflects the very simple idea that, over time, the smartest and most successful people are the ones who are constant and deliberate learners.” — Inc.com: Why constant learners all embrace the 5-hour rule.
My co-worker Nancy began listening to podcasts on her daily commute, a friend is reading business books five or more hours per week. Take an online course, attend a seminar, go to class, but commit and follow through with the 5 hour rule.
Teach, Coach, Mentor
If you want to learn a subject inside out, then teach it. Anyone who has responsibly taught, trained, or coached has leaned this. The preparation to be a good instructor teaches trainers more than their students learn. A good mentor not only shares what they’ve learned, but also learns from their mentee. Mentee’s often share new perspectives and ask questions that mentors may have never considered.
Wait What?? Yes, fail. If you never fail, you’re not trying hard enough. The key to failing is to learn from it. Failure might be the greatest teacher there is and the fear of failure a close second. In his book, Failure: The Secret to Success, (which I highly recommend) Author Robby Slaughter, quotes John Powell, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing” – John Powell
Leading Your Business in Learning
If you’re not leading your small business by learning then who is? Hopefully, someone on your team is, because if not you might be in more trouble than you know. I’m reminded of a friend of TKO who owned an offset print shop. And although he delivered a good product the business failed after more than 25 years. He sat down with the president of TKO shortly before he closed his doors, and shared that he didn’t know what to do, because online stores were putting him out of business. He didn’t have a website. Looking at it now it’s easy for all of us to identify what he should’ve done, isn’t it? But consider this, if you don’t commit to continuous learning you might end up exactly like the print shop owner and never see the end coming until it’s too late.