The value of business knowledge and where to find it
Many people believe that education stops once you finish school, but this is not the case. Your education stops the moment you believe you can’t learn anything new anymore. For most people, that means the moment they draw their last breath — so, you’ve still got time!
Formal education is just one step in the learning process, yet there are many more and you can take as many steps as you like.
Gather knowledge wherever you go
Some people know what they want to do with their life from an early age. Others are either not in a position to follow their passion or they may not have a clear idea of which direction to take. That’s ok. It’s the way life works out sometimes. However, we can all learn from every situation we find ourselves in, even if it is learning what not to do.
It is rare to have the opportunity and passion at the same time. What you can do while you are waiting for your opportunity is to actively gather knowledge that either interests you or may benefit you in the future (even if you don’t know how yet). Developing more skills is always valuable. You already have a huge skill set, you just might not know it. Even the algebra that seemed so useless at school helped you to learn how to define variables and work things out logically.
While co-founding dealPad, an online platform that helps business advisors raise money for private SMEs, Ben Williamson quickly realised that his entire working life culminated into every aspect of this business. He had previously worked for some large accounting firms and helped to dramatically increase the growth rates of other start-ups.
While running a real estate agency, Williamson’s personal finances were under severe strain. At that time, he learned a lot of valuable lessons about how to manage his money and get through that time without going broke. Those skills helped him to get funding for dealPad.
In their podcast interview on The Mentor List, Williamson and co-founder, Rhys Davis, stressed the importance of pro-actively building skills even if you don’t know how you’ll use them. They agreed that knowledge, and especially business knowledge, it a process and its benefits increase the more you put in, much like compound interest. As Williamson noted:
“You don’t have to have a business idea now. If there is some (general) direction you’d like to go in, you don’t have to rush. Take the time. Work for someone else in the area. Work to your passion. If there’s an opportunity that falls out of that, that is a good direction to take.”
Upskill whenever you can
While it is important to gather all the incidental knowledge you can, it is just as important to deliberately choose some skills you would like to have and make it a goal to obtain them. This is equally relevant for business owners and employees.
John Feldmann explained this in his Forbes article Knowledge Is Power: The Benefits Of Upskilling For Employers and Employees.
“Even if an employee loves his or her job, the future is never guaranteed. Industries change, employers are forced to downsize, jobs are replaced by artificial intelligence, etc. The best way employees can ensure their future is to increase their value to their employer by expanding their knowledge and skill set. When opportunities for promotion arise, their employer will look favorably upon their willingness to learn and take on new tasks. For those who leave the company, upskilling will only add to their resume and make them more attractive to future employers.”
What types of skills might you need?
There are many different skill sets that may prove valuable for your career and they generally fall into three categories:
Industry skills: Such as certifications, diplomas or degrees focused on specific jobs.
Vocational skills: Things specific to your role. For example, knowledge of taxation or WHS regulations.
Transferrable skills: These are functional skills useful in many life situations. They include communication, negotiation, teamwork and computer literacy skills.
Before you decide what skills you need, it is a good idea to reflect on those you already have. You may find it useful to work with a personal coach to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, then decide on the areas you would like to build more expertise in.
Where to learn your skills
Most of us are surrounded by many excellent sources of knowledge — we just need to know where to look and to have the desire to learn. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Spend time exploring topics of interest.
Read books and articles.
Listen to podcasts such as The Mentor List.
Follow thought leaders and industry trends.
Find mentors to talk to or shadow.
·Volunteer in the organisations or industries you would like to be part of.
Sign up for on-the-job training, apprenticeships or TAFE courses.
Enrol in longer tertiary courses.
Some of these pathways can take time, but, if you need expertise quickly, avoid trying to cram it all in yourself. Instead, seek advice from mentors and professional experts, such as lawyers and accountants. Their knowledge base can save you a lot of time and money.
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Ben Williamson left the safety of corporate life to move into high-growth businesses and has become very ingrained in the Melbourne start-up community. Rhys Davis has come through a strong engineering background which saw him most recently as the CEO of Vericus.
Together, they launched the dealPad platform, which helps sophisticated investors find more deals relevant to them — saving everybody time and increasing deal visibility. Both acknowledge that they were in a good position to get early funding because they had established skills in previous business ventures. Hear more of their story and their tips for gathering knowledge for your own success by listening to their podcast interview on The Mentor List.
Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List. www.mentorlist.com.au
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Finding a mentor has never been so easy. Mentor List is a peer-to-peer social marketplace that provides a platform for mentoring. Every once and a while, we all need a little help. The best way to deal with this scenario is to access a network of advisors, mentors and coaches that can assist you in the challenges you may face. This marketplace provides you the underlying support structure that will get you through your career and life challenges.