Many entrepreneurs are dropouts; even more are involved in businesses that have little to do with what they studied at school. However, this does not mean they are ignorant; they are the type of people that are continually striving to learn new things. We are living in an age of snooze, you lose.
To avoid being obsolete, and to stay ahead of the pack, African entrepreneurs need to keep up to date with market trends, new technologies, and automation systems that can expedite productivity. Without doing this it will be difficult to remain relevant.
Today, the need for the accumulation of knowledge is more pressing than ever before. What you know now is likely to be out of date within a few months.
With this in mind, it is important to ensure you gather all the information you can as often as possible. Without this, you cannot improve your business – and if you are not getting better, you are getting worse.
Competition is voraciously getting better. Whatever business you are in now, you must offer more a year from now to stay competitive.
It is crucial to note that acquiring information alone does not change anything; otherwise everybody would be rich, happy and healthy. Information on its own won’t suffice; it is what you do with the information that will help you achieve your goals.
There are different ways to keep learning, such as short-term training, on-the-job training, long-term training, reading, or sharing ideas with experienced people. Keep in mind that education is not a one-off experience, rather an ongoing process.
Successful entrepreneurs attach themselves with individuals who either know more than they do or understand things that are in a different field to what they know.
Most entrepreneurs are from the school of hard knocks. We learn through trial and error, from experiences that helped us develop the fortitude to face market-related challenges with unequivocal courage. It builds a spirit inside of us that we use to assure ourselves we will make it no matter what.
According to Brian Tracy, you need to be exposed to new information six times to absorb it at a subconscious level. Once there, you’ll use it automatically.
Mark Lamberti, Founder of Massmart and CEO of Imperial Holdings, has a library at his house. When you talk to Lamberti, he’ll tell you his dedication to learning has been an asset in growing three major African companies, Massmart, Transaction Capital and Imperial Holdings.
Lamberti is not alone. If you visit the wealthiest entrepreneurs in your country, it is likely that each one will have a library at their home. It’s the same with the wealthiest men in the world; Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have an enormous appetite to read.
So, here comes the billion-dollar question: did most wealthy entrepreneurs become successful then buy books, or did they buy books then become successful? I think we know the answer.
One thing I find fascinating about the top entrepreneurs is that they love reading biographies of other successful people, whether in business, sports, politics, or entertainment. Those stories are of great interest to them as long as the person succeeded in spite of the odds stacked against them.
Today, we have a plethora of seminars and conferences – it is useful for an entrepreneur to frequently attend sector-specific events to increase your knowledgebase about your field.
Formal education is often focused on theoretical concepts, instead of being task- or problem-solving orientated; business schools need to work around this. The best institutions invite business leaders to be guest lecturers, or take students on fieldtrips to the best companies that their modules and courses cover.
Continuous learning is key to giving your business an advantage over others. However, true success lies in applying what you have learnt faster than anyone else.