You’re Never Too Old To Learn // Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

I’m not afraid to learn, I’m just old. Been there, done that. Seen it all.

Well, perhaps the more politically correct word to use is “seasoned.” You’d think that after 20 years as business owner of a thriving PR and marketing firm, I’d know everything there is to know about hiring, firing, profit and loss, leadership, management, operations – you name it. After all, I’ve read hundreds of business books, attended numerous seminars and conferences, participated in CEO-level roundtables, and even led business seminars myself… how much more is there to learn, right?

SO WRONG.

Enter the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program. This program (10KSB, for short) kicked my butt! It’s three months of intense Babson College MBA-level coursework and should be mandatory learning for all entrepreneurs, no matter how long you’ve been in business. Oh yes, and it’s all FREE thanks to the Goldman Sachs Foundation which invested millions into the development of this program with the sole purpose of helping small businesses succeed, grow and create jobs.

I highly recommend applying for the 10KSB program – the gift that keeps on giving. Even after graduating, the networking, business opportunity, and applying what we’ve learned into our enterprises is simply priceless and is ongoing. My advice to you, ladies, is to get outside of your business, look for opportunities to learn (they are all around you), and remember to take the time to work ON your business instead of just IN it. Here are more tidbits to share:

ONE TAKEAWAY

Someone once gave me the advice that if you learn but one thing from time spent in a seminar or class, it’s worth it. Take that to heart and don’t think of even the most boring workshop as being a waste of time or money. Walk away with that one takeaway that you’ll implement for your business and you’re that much closer to achieving your success. Don’t forget to implement the takeaway!

PEER-TO-PEER LEARNING

Sometimes talking to another business owner helps. Seeing something from their perspective and, more importantly, having to explain a problem to a person who’s not in your industry or even in business helps to clarify and articulate your issues, and frame them in a way that can help lead to a solution or opportunity. Seek out a business owner that you respect who is at or above the level of business experience that you are. Share both your successes and your failures, and remember to be a good listener to your business friend – it’s not all about you.

PERSONAL GROWTH

Carry around a little notebook, scrap paper, or use the Notes app on your smartphone and write ideas as you get them. Open your eyes to what other businesses are doing, make up “to do” items for yourself, and capture the thought. I now spend at minimum 2 hours per week outside of my office to work on my business – to look at financials, work on the business plan, analyze metrics, catch up on reading, etc. I save all of these things for this regular meeting with myself each week and it helps me to accomplish a lot. Of course, I sneak a little client work in there, too (can’t help it), but this dedicated time allows me to be more efficient and reduce stress.

PROFESSIONAL OPPORTUNITY

Networking is key to seeking out opportunities for your business. Whether it’s in person or by phone/email/LinkedIn it still counts as outreach to another human who can potentially help you now or down the road. Entrepreneurs need to be constantly in recruitment mode, in learning mode, in networking mode, and in sales mode. What opportunities lie in wait for you? I can tell you this – you won’t find any if you aren’t opening yourself up for them. Every moment you spend with another person is an opportunity – you never know who that person is meeting with next or how what they say in conversation could spark a new idea or a new door to open.

By opening yourself up all of the possibilities that lie in the business journey ahead, you not only will learn more ways to succeed, you may learn a little bit more about yourself along the way.  Remember – you’re never too old to learn!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elisabeth “Betty” Galligan, APR is owner/president of Newberry Public Relations and Marketing, Inc., a full-service public relations, marketing, strategic planning and business consulting firm located in East Providence and now celebrating its 20th year of business. She is a graduate of Cohort 1 of the Rhode Island 10,000 Small Businesses Program at CCRI.