- Player: Deon Herbst
- Position: CEO
- Company: Enterprises University of Pretoria (Pty) Ltd
- Established: 2000
- Visit: www.enterprises.up.ac.za
Consider for a moment all the professional areas that the average entrepreneur needs to be, if not excellent at, then at least proficient in: Sales, marketing, accounting, human resources, public relations, IT, logistics – the list goes on and on.
The fact of the matter is, no entrepreneur’s background will ever provide him or her with all the tools needed to run a business. Add to this fact the reality that all the areas listed above are continually evolving, and the need for ongoing learning becomes obvious.
The good news is that upskilling oneself is easier than ever. Not only is information easier to access than ever, but courses are now available that make studying very accessible and achievable, even for busy business people. Entrepreneur spoke to Enterprises University of Pretoria (Pty) Ltd CEO Deon Herbst about ongoing learning for entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs are busy people, so how should they continue their learning while still running businesses?
Online learning is flexible and accessible – you can literally access learning programmes anywhere at any time – perfect for on-the-go entrepreneurs.
Many professionals struggle to find the time to attend formal training sessions, but would still like to continue improving their knowledge and skills. Because of this, it is important to find a solution that makes learning as easy and accessible as possible. For instance, our courses offer integrated online learning environments that optimise global participation. We’ve also recently launched a mobile app that provides a one-stop interactive information service. You can select a course, enrol, pay and track your skills development goals – all on your phone via our app!
What do you consider to be a realistic goal in terms of continued learning? How should entrepreneurs map out their studies?
Take a systematic approach. You don’t complete a marathon by running a marathon – you complete it by running one step at a time and not stopping until you have reached your goal. If you are starting out with a new venture, you can look at a course that will equip you with skills to start a business and manage it to reach unchartered growth.
If you have a business that has been running for a while, and you realise the need and benefits of using technology for your business, look into a course that will provide you with opportunities to understand technology better and how it can assist you in growing your business.
Use your talents and dreams to map the path to your business’s success, and then put together a solid plan to sharpen your skills to get you there.
Can you tell us a bit about the sort of courses that are available for people looking to study while working? What sort of course would you recommend?
It’s important, we believe, to offer courses that address the specific needs of an industry. In order to be truly useful to a professional, a course needs to deal with the specifics of his or her industry.
A professional shouldn’t sign up for some broad, general course, but should instead enrol in something that will meet their immediate workplace needs.
For this reason, we offer a very wide range of courses, from agriculture and food sciences to engineering, law, economics and, of course, business management and entrepreneurship.
Read more on the courses here.
What, in your opinion, should the ultimate goal of any course be?
Well, we believe that any offering should translate into increased productivity and enhanced customer service excellence. In order for any course to be worthwhile to both the individual enrolled and his or her larger company, it should offer high-quality, customised and practical solutions that make a real-world difference to day-to-day operations.
Why is continued learning important for entrepreneurs?
New developments are occurring at a rapid rate, technology is evolving and information is becoming more readily available in real-time settings.
With the significant changes that recent years have brought to the career landscape, the responsibility to upskill, empower yourself and build a workforce with ‘future-proof’ skills has shifted to you, the individual, and you need to make sure that your skills are on par with your ambition.
What kind of continued learning is beneficial to entrepreneurship?
Empowering emerging entrepreneurs is a national requirement and key to the sustainability of any enterprise. For example, courses equipping entrepreneurs with supplier development solutions to grow and support small business are extremely beneficial.
Big organisations now have the opportunity to invest in the skills development of small businesses, and receive greater incentives for buy-back of goods and services once these suppliers have been upskilled to meet their requirements.
By developing qualifying small businesses as value-adding suppliers, big organisations become drivers of change.
In return, small businesses are able to supply quality goods and services and the right technical skills to create the vital link of empowered suppliers.
Apart from enrolling in study programmes, what other strategies would you suggest for those trying to improve their knowledge?
Never underestimate the importance of solid research. By putting science into practice, it can produce business solutions that translate into increased productivity, enhanced customer service and improved business optimisation.
Related: An MBA for Free?
Considering that entrepreneurs are usually busy people, as mentioned, we have tried to bridge the gap between businesses and our research industry experts. You can view and access our experts online, without geographical limitations. Entrepreneurs are critical for our continent and they are the champions in living our credo of ‘shifting knowledge to insight’.