We all know entrepreneurs have an on-going, never-ending list of skills they must possess and continuously sharpen. These skills can range anywhere from managerial tasks to honing in on specific crafts. Therefore, finding ways to improve any such skills can vary. You can stick to traditional ways of entrepreneurial improvement or you can experiment with unexpected ways of sharpening those same skills. Here’s a list of both:
1. Read, read, and read some more
Reading all about business, whether it’s through magazines and books on entrepreneurship or autobiographies and biographies about great entrepreneurs, is a great way to continue to improve your entrepreneurial skills. Reading will always keep you well informed and up to date on rising trends and innovations within your industry. It’s a reliable way to stay sharp and continue to learn either from a new product that’s a about to launch or from an entrepreneur you can relate to and use as inspiration. Moreover, read about other industries or subject matters. A good entrepreneur knows a little about everything and the best way to achieve that is by reading. Remember, knowledge is power.
2. Find a mentor
Reading about entrepreneurs you look up to is always useful, but finding a living and breathing mentor is even better. Find a mentor and develop a solid rapport with him or her. They will have the life experience you may currently lack and will be able to guide you through many of the entrepreneurial challenges they have already gone through. More than telling you what’s right from wrong, a mentor will navigate you through your mistakes and help you gain a better perspective on things.
3. Coach little league
Perhaps you may consider this an unexpected way to sharpen your skills as an entrepreneur, but if you’re into sports give this a try: coach a little league team in your city. You will be able to work on your motivating, strategizing, and team building skills in a different environment. Sometimes all we need is a different outlook on things in order get through a challenge or an obstacle and come out on top a little bit wiser and a little bit stronger.
4. Attend seminars
Attending seminars is a classic way to work on your leadership skills, and there’s a reason why – it works! Stay on top of what seminars are taking place near you and reserve some time to attend. These are a quick and easy way to get back into traditional learning mode and pick up on a few new skills or improve on older ones.
5. Network with other entrepreneurs
Similar to attending seminars, networking with other entrepreneurs is a an oldie but goodie. But different to seminars, networking provides you with more practical opportunities to put those entrepreneurial skills to the test. Networking will not only help you improve, it can also expand your pool of colleagues, partnerships, mentors, and any other individuals that can offer you great business opportunities or vice versa. Research what groups or clubs are a good fit for you and sign up for a few networking events.
6. Make the crowd laugh
Two must-have skills for any entrepreneur are having a great attitude and being able to communicate efficiently. Sitting behind a computer and writing great-sounding emails will not cut it. Push yourself and take on the following challenge: make a crowd laugh. You can sign up for a stand-up comedy class or you can see how far your humor naturally goes. Learning how to read a crowd and navigating them to laughter will undoubtedly benefit you when dealing with employees or customers back in the office.
7. Become a volunteer
Giving back should be in every entrepreneur’s to-do list. Not only is it important to give back to people who helped you get to where you’re at now, but you can also learn a thing or two from it. You can still use and work on your entrepreneurial skills while volunteering, but without the added pressure of having to deliver or sell something.
8. Plan a big event
You already run a company, what else can you plan that’s bigger than that? Probably not much, but you can still learn from planning something big that’s outside of your industry. So have some fun, step outside your comfort zone, and plan a wedding, a big birthday, an end-of-year party, anything that’s not work related. Whatever the event is, you will still need to use the same skills you use to run your company: team-building, strategizing, negotiating, meeting deadlines, etc.
Some of the best entrepreneurs learned about leadership, perseverance, and innovation outside the workplace. Challenge yourself to learn these practical skills in a new environment, and you’ll see the benefits carry over to your work life in ways you probably didn’t expect.