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Learning for Business: 3 Top Reasons to Keep Learning When You Don’t Have Time to Keep Learning

A black man protecting a young white girl
Image credit: Denzel Washington, Man on Fire

I. Love. Learning.

And I'm guessing that since you're reading this, you feel pretty much the same about learning too.

It's not always been like that for me, though. Ever since I started Sales Marvel, I went from a large team of colleagues to "just me".

I've had to learn how to do things for myself in order to move the business forward.

You have to be multi-skilled running your own business; one minute you're talking to a potential customer, then there's the website (oh the website!) and then delivering for clients. If you manage a team, there are even more demands on your time.

So, with all this going on, how on earth do you find time to learn new skills and practices?

Whilst I've been in sales 30-plus years, I've learned much about the profession but I still love learning from other people's experiences - whether through reading, online masterclasses or more formalised learning in the classroom. And, of course, there's always learning "on the job" too (70% of all learning).

So, the easiest excuse in the world to keep us from learning new things is "time".

Time is a safe excuse.

Anyone that knows us, already knows how busy we are with constant meetings, emails and delivering for our customers.

The list of things that keeps us too busy is literally endless.

But here's the rub: How are we going to better ourselves or improve our businesses if we're not continuously learning newer and better ways to do things, to stay ahead of the competition?

Recently, I put this time excuse to the CEO of an SME manaufacturing business and here's what he said in response:

"I attended a Help To Grow alumni event recently as it had a couple of interesting speakers. I learned so much from what the speakers had to say and when I spoke to 1 of the audience afterward, discovered she was a very senior officer in the military.

I thought:

If someone that senior is prepared to take the time out to learn, perhaps I should find the time too."

For me, it’s always being open to becoming a better player. You have to find the time don’t you?

Scroll to 50:23 of his Desert Island Discs interview to hear Ronnie's amazing attitude to learning.

Why Continuous Learning?

Formal education levels are regularly linked to higher earnings and lower unemployment

In researching this post, I came across a number of inspirational quotes:

Learning is a learned behaviour

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.

Henry Ford

(Help To Grow) was like a mini MBA for me - I've kicked-off internal projects from literally every module.

A man with stunted growth in a wheelchair
Sean Stephenson Pic credit: TEDx Talks/YouTube

As a leader, how are you going to keep your business ahead of your competition if you're not learning continuously?

Here's what Motivational Speaker and Therapist Sean Stephenson thinks 👉

So, What's Stopping YOU?

I recall working with a Top 10 University a couple of years ago and being filled with admiration for candidates applying to join this University's Executive MBA programme. Most of the applicants already had senior roles in industry and Government and to commit to join a programme like an EMBA was no small ask.

That said, availability of time frequently came up still and had to be "handled deftly and confidently" - the list of excuses given was pretty consistent:

1. Time: Literally anyone and everyone could cite this excuse. We all have the same 24 hours in the day, don’t we?

The irony is, if you’re reading this right now, then we’re likely already on the same page (see what I did there? 😊)

2. Make time: if you had a customer who insisted on meeting you next Tuesday at 10 am for two hours to discuss an opportunity you’d make sure you were. There wouldn’t you? Sure you would. See you already. See the value of blocking out valuable time.

Learning is no different, it’s a matter of prioritising time.

Peter Davies (CEO, James Lister & Sons) talked about an event he participated in recently. In the audience was someone “equivalent to a five star general“ from our own UK military. Peter had a thought process of "come on, they are a really important person, they must be really busy…so If they’ve taken the time to be here, then what’s my excuse?

3. Tell everyone, ask for their support: you will find your customers will value a more informed supplier; it suggests that you’re looking to make your business better and that they will benefit from that improvement, your shareholders will get largely the same message, that you’re working to improve yourself and, as a result, the business.

It means they could generate improved returns on their investment.

Stakeholders and Benefits

An excel table listing stakeholder groups to sales messages
How messages change according to stakeholder groups

4. If you still can’t justify the time, perhaps you need to ask yourself, why not? What changes could/should you make in order to improve yourself?

Are You an SME?

Want to know how Help to Grow: Management could help your business grow? If your SME has 5 or more employees but less than 249, contact us for an informal chat to see if the Help to Grow: Management course could help you and your grow.

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