Why Being At The Cutting Edge of Your Specialism Is Key To Business Success

I love to learn. In fact, if I could spend the rest of my life reading and studying, I'd be a very happy lady. Last year, I read 75 books (that might sound like a lot but in 1982, during my six week summer holiday alone, I read 50. I admit it, I am addicted to reading...); and I have a pile of 16 books to read at the moment. All subjects, all genres, all eagerly awaited.

I've also, almost, applied to study for a Masters degree, twice, in the last twelve months. This is a nuts idea because I just don't have the time right now; although there's that optimistic part of me that tells me that's not true - I'm sure I must have some free time somewhere... (I don't). (Well, not unless I want my head to explode from the stress).

So now you know how much I love to learn.

I see it as an integral part of being an entrepreneur. We are the innovators, the rule breakers, the risk takers. We are the people that others look to for fresh ideas, for a different spin on an old theory or process, and for a shot of opposite brain thinking when everyone else is thought out. So, we need to be on top of the latest thinking, and up to date with our skillsets.

In a previous business, I used to work with young people; helping them to start their own business. The biggest barrier they faced when selling their skills was from people who would ask why they thought they knew enough to solve their problem 'what do you know, you've just left college/university, I want someone who has more experience'.
I used to tell them that, actually, they were best placed to solve their potential clients problems, precisely because they'd just left college or university.

Why?

Because their knowledge was bang up to date; and they had done nothing but eat, sleep and drink their subject for the past 3-5 years as a minimum. Some of them had been working on their business ideas for ten years plus. If I was going to hire someone to do a job for me, and cutting edge subject knowledge was critical, I would definitely consider hiring someone young; in fact I have done many times. I also have a mentor who is some twenty five years younger than me, and he brings a fascinating slant to my work. So for me, age is irrelevant.

But specialist knowledge isn't. It's key.

Think about your qualifications. How up to date are they? When did you last go on a training course that could add to your offer? And bring value to your clients or customers? What relevant books have you read, or videos have you watched, in the last six months? Do you know what the government position is on developments in your industry, and are there any new regulations headed your way? Are you a member of a mastermind group? Who helps you to develop your skills and expertise, ensuring that you are ahead of the competition?

Don't kid yourself that you know everything because you studied at a prestigious college or university twenty years ago, and have been working in the industry ever since. You don't know it all. You will never know it all. None of us know it all - and that's why we need to keep updating our skills. 

We occupy a privileged position in society; we are the people that others watch and emulate. If we want to get the absolute best out of our business, and ourselves, then we need to be at the top of our game.
Continuous learning is, without doubt, the key to that. 

How do you ensure that you keep up to date with developments and learning in your industry? Comment below!