What does being a lifelong learner mean to you? When I finished college and started my career, I decided that I was going to be a lifelong learner. I didn’t understand exactly what that meant but I knew that I wanted to continue to learn and grow. Fast forward a little more than twenty years and I find myself just as committed to learning as I was back then.
Last week, I spent two days at a workshop on Best Practices for Agency Owners hosted by Agency Management Institute. My excitement leading up to this workshop was a strong contender to beat my daughters’ first day of school excitement. Why? Because I knew that the information that I would learn, not only through the workshop material but from talking and sharing with peers in the industry would inspire me and lead to new ideas and ways of doing business.
Even the most experienced business leaders benefit from learning. The workshop I attended focused on 7 key business areas: Goals, Organization, Systems, Financial, Management, Staffing and Marketing.
Key takeaways that I jotted down included:
- Define mission, vision & values
- Have a vision for where you are going. Imagine a typical day 6 years from now – what will you be doing? How will you spend your time?
- Focus on your financial metrics. Know your benchmarks and strive for those goals.
- Develop a new business development machine that works even when you are busy.
- Dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s” – when it comes to proposals, contracts and freelance agreements.
- Establish bonus programs for your staff that are tied to business objectives and financial results.
Learning is only the first step. After being inspired, the next step is taking action. Yesterday I met with my Accountant and Business Advisor to discuss the ideas that I learned at the workshop and to identify the ones that we will focus on for my business. The next step is to meet with my team and share the information that I learned with them. Then we will begin to implement a few of the ideas that are the best fit for the business at this point in time.
The Wikipedia definition of Lifelong learning is the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. As I reflect on the growth of my business over the last 7 years, I can clearly track its evolution to the lifelong learning opportunities that I have sought out and the series of small changes that have been made as a result. My fourth quarter schedule includes three more learning opportunities and I can only imagine what will be next!