When you graduate, you may think school is finally behind you. But any doer who’s tried to start or grow a business knows you’re never really done learning. In a world that’s perpetually evolving with new technology, business models, platforms and perspectives, there’s no end to what you’ll learn.
When you work for yourself, it’s essential to keep abreast of current trends and the latest industry intel. Ongoing learning sharpens and adds to your skill set, making you more competitive in today’s business landscape. Even expets like you have a lot to learn.
Luckily, help is just a click away. Here are some valuable continuing education resources to help you stay ahead of the curve – beyond just reading, networking, or listening to podcasts.
1. Business workshops
Workshops are a good place to start, especially if you have a limited budget for continuing education. These are often produced by government agencies, the Small Business Administration (SBA), nonprofit organizations, Chamber of Commerce, and local community colleges and universities. The workshops are usually taught by local business professionals who have the leadership or entrepreneurial experience to deliver relevant information and training.
For a solopreneur who may still be in college, a fellowship is a beneficial pathway that is geared toward operating a business. This type of continuing education includes hands-on experience. Plus, it can connect you with entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors who can further your startup dreams.
However, you don’t have to be a current student to leverage a fellowship. Numerous organizations provide them, including the Tory Burch Foundation, The American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Innovation, and the Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship program. Grants are often available when you go this route as well.
Hands-on learning is one of the most educational experiences you can have. While you may already have started your own freelance business, taking on an internship is an effective way to get real-world training related to skills in your industry.
University students can locate internships through campus job postings, specific classes they’re taking, or the college’s career office. Non-students can access internships or apprenticeships through online job boards as well as social media professional networking groups and platforms.
4. Traditional higher education and trade schools
Traditional university education is evolving to become more relevant to those who harbor entrepreneurial dreams. Many universities offer certification programs related to certain business skills like writing or condensed learning programs designed for entrepreneurs. You can also take many of these online rather than in the classroom to fit your busy solopreneur schedule. Numerous scholarships make this continuing education option more affordable too.
Conferences are another way to enhance your skill set while networking and potentially adding new clients. Focus on budget-friendly events that are designed to improve your business and offer topics directed at your industry. Weigh the cost of attending against the potential return, paying particular attention to any conferences that offer “marketplace” sessions where you can meet potential clients in person. Also look for breakout education sessions and even certifications that add to your freelancer worth.
Sites like EventBrite and Meetup post local conferences and have a search function to locate other potential events across the country. This makes it easier to plan a business or personal trip that can include an educational opportunity.
6. E-Learning Courses
Online courses are one of the most convenient ways to expand your knowledge and ability. Choose courses that help differentiate your personal or freelance brand. For example, Fiverr’s new range of e-learning courses, Learn from Fiverr, provide a variety of skill-building programs that address new ways of working. They include data storytelling, animating logos with Adobe, Google Analytics, viral marketing, and others. Those who complete a course receive a badge verifying their expertise in that field.
Freelancers, how do you keep learning new skills? What’s worked well for you and why? Let us know in the comments below.