Many business owners feel like they’re burning the candle at both ends and don’t have any extra capacity to consider taking on other activities or responsibilities. For some, that’s true. For others, sometimes external activities or investments of time can actually provide huge benefits they would otherwise miss out on.
While it can take a balancing act, business owners who engage in professional development opportunities like taking online classes or pursuing accreditations or degrees often gain much more value back for the investment of time and energy required to take them on.
Here are a few reasons that taking online classes can create significant benefits for you as a business owner.
Reason One: Stay Up to Date on Best Business Practice
Taking online classes as a business owner can help keep you apprised of how different aspects of business ownership and your market are changing and shifting. Working with old information or conventional wisdom is an easy way to lose touch with how other business minds are solving problems or operating in your industry. Without staying apprised of current practices, your business can stagnate or be blindsided by competitors (or simply by changes in the marketplace).
Technological advances and applications provide just one example of how available tools, capabilities, and techniques change over time. For instance, the way data collection and analysis can inform business practice has massively changed even in the last five years. This is an area that is well worth staying apprised of so that you know what is available to you. Without learning current best practice, you’re liable to get passed by when your competitors implement those strategies.
Reason Two: Gain Networking Opportunities
Taking online classes can be a very different experience from enrolling in (or auditing) an undergraduate in-person class. Online classes are often utilized by people with a broad range of ages, lifestyles, and other commitments, including business ownership. Online classes can provide opportunities to connect with others in the same boat as you are.
Especially if you’re taking classes related to business or your field of work, you can anticipate connecting with or working alongside others who may have similar or complementary experience, skills, interests, and histories to yourself. Engaging in online classes can be a great way to connect with people around the country who could make helpful confidants, supporters, or even potential employees or partners down the line.
Reason Three: Take Advantage of Superior Learning Flexibility
One of the strongest benefits of taking classes online as opposed to in person is the high degree of flexibility that the average online class structure affords you. Many are designed specifically for professionals who have a large number of other responsibilities or commitments.
Because they are designed in this format, online classes are much more possible to fit within the preexisting structures of your day or week as a business owner. No matter when you have the capacity and space during the week or even month, you can pull out your material and assignments in the windows you have available to you.
The increased flexibility offered by an online class or degree program oftentimes makes continued learning possible for business owners when it wouldn’t have been achievable any other way.
Reason Four: Practice Time Management Skills
Even though online classes offer a large amount of flexibility compared to more traditional school structures, they still require work and energy. In fact, taking on a class will almost always require a sizable amount of time to complete readings, lectures, and/or assignments. Because of this, enrolling in an online class can create an interesting side benefit for business owners: the opportunity to develop stronger time management skills.
When you add a commitment that might ask you for an additional 3-5 hours a week or more than had previously been available for your business or personal life, you’ll need to do some juggling and thoughtful planning to make sure you can still complete your previous tasks and that you don’t burn yourself out with a new spread of responsibilities.
This process can often yield unforeseen benefits. When you are forced to assess the ways you currently spend your time, you have the opportunity to remove items from your daily or weekly to-do list that shouldn’t be there. You learn to spend your time more efficiently.
You practice capping projects at an adequate amount of time rather than letting them expand into hours you could be using for other things. You begin to master the fine arts of delegation and prioritization. All of these side effects can be made possible by taking on an online class.
Reason Five: Give Your Brain Active Space Outside Your Business
Finally, a last huge benefit of taking online classes or engaging in material separate from your business is the chance to remove your mind from the tunnel vision of your current business. Taking classes allows you to give your brain a temporary break or two from your business owner hat during the week. It allows your brain to work on different problems; think about new subject matter; and engage in different ways than it normally does on the job.
Contrary to some opinions, getting time away from your own responsibilities can allow your mind’s subconscious to work on any problems or issues while you think about something else. In addition to getting a much-needed break sometimes, you’ll also likely find it easier to come up with solutions or see your business with a fresh set of eyes if you engage in an online class that regularly takes you out of your business-as-usual world.
Think about adding in an online class or learning opportunity as a business owner. It can often create benefits for both yourself and your business you might never have anticipated.