Albert Einstein said “Once you stop learning, you start dying”. I believe this is just as true, perhaps even more so, in business as it is in life. Find me a business owner who knows it all, and I’ll show you a business that will soon fall behind the pack and then fail. Someone else said “If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.”
Studies have shown that 2 of the top 3 reasons small businesses in NSW don’t make it past their first five years are a lack of management knowledge and skills and failing to take advantage of available learning resources. Our own research at Peer Business Consulting has shown that many businesses think the biggest challenge currently facing startups and small businesses in Australia is not enough experience running a business.
So this week’s blog is dedicated to all those business owners who want to learn more about running their business but are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information out there. As someone who is obsessed with learning, I’d like to share my favourite resources with you all.
Must read websites
It’s probably no surprise that I think a lot of this site. I often refer to it. What’s not to like? It’s free and applicable for all businesses. There is a wealth of guidance on a huge range of business topics, with dedicated pages for starting up, business planning, business structures and many more. And they have very good, easy to use templates and checklists on all aspects of your business management.
Although geared towards the solo and micro business, Flying Solo is a valuable resource for all business owners. Like business.gov.au, it offers help on a huge range of topics from Starting to Money and Productivity and even Wellbeing. They also have a Small Business Forum and offer regular webinars and other informational resources online. Well worth the exploration if you’re in need of business education but don’t know where to start. Most of the resources are available with the basic membership (which is free) but you have to pay if you want a list your business on their directory.
Super useful webinars
Flying Solo Flight School
Premium membership also gets you access to the Flying Solo Flight School, which is a series of videos and webinars covering the essentials of starting and growing a small business. I was an avid user in my first year of business and learned some valuable lessons from people who know. Highly recommended.
ATO Tax Basics for Small Business Webinar Series
Nothing is certain but death and taxes. And when it comes to tax, you may as well listen to the ATO. They have recently launched a series of videos and webinars designed to educate and help small businesses with their tax obligations. There are 12 webinars in total covering topics such income tax, small business tax concessions, employer obligations, GST and BAS and many more.
I’ve listened to most of them and have found them great. Just the right information presented in a simple way, with plenty of references to further information, tools and calculators. And if you have staff and/or pay GST, I think they are absolutely essential.
NSW Business Chamber webinars
I had the foresight to join the NSWBC within a few months of starting my business and have never looked back. Apart from the obvious benefits of networking opportunities and exposure for my business through the Chamber’s channels, I was really impressed with the volume and quality of webinars available.
NSWBC puts on a few webinars each month covering all aspects of running and growing your business. You need to be a member to partake but once you’ve joined, all webinars are free. The other good thing is that most of them are a lunchtime, so it’s easier to pop on the headphones and listen while grabbing a bite to eat.
Online learning: Lynda.com
There are loads of online learning modules out there, but this is my absolute fav.
I discovered Lynda.com when I met my first client, a graphic designer. She’d been using Lynda.com most of her career and a lot of her knowledge of web and graphic design had come from Lynda.com. As a new business owner, I didn’t have the funds initially to outsource much to external consultants, so I needed to get up to speed on things like social media management, website maintenance, WordPress, etc. so that I could do it myself.
Eventually I discovered that Lynda.com also had courses on marketing strategy and other essential business skills. All the courses are presented as videos, and some with workbooks and activities, by experts in each field. At around US$50 per month, this investment in my skills development is definitely worth it.
If you prefer face to face…
Digital Enterprise Program
The DEP is an Australian Government initiative aimed at helping businesses succeed online and provides free group training and one-on-one coaching support for small-to-medium businesses. If you are a bit green in terms of the online space, as I was, these sessions are for you. Sessions include website management, social media, content marketing, Google Adwords and Analytics. All free and delivered by experts in online marketing.
As part of the program, you can also have personal coaching. I took the opportunity and ended up with a wealth of useful tips, which I implemented in my website and social media pages, with great success.
Business Enterprise Centre
Like the DEP, the BEC is also offered by the government, with regional centres across all states. The BEC presents workshops on broader topics for business, including business planning, time management, legal issues, trademarks and patents, etc. Many of the workshop are free however some cost a nominal fee.
So hopefully you find these resources to be helpful in your journey as a successful business owner. I’d love to hear what you think of these sites and if you have other suggestions, please share.
* Image sourced from Death to the Stock Photo.
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About the Author: Angeline Zaghloul is an expert in business strategy, client management and business processes, and is the Principal of Peer Business Consulting, a Sydney-based consultancy providing strategy and operations support to startups and SMEs. Angeline also publishes a regular blog which provides research, advice and tips on key issues facing businesses.