Technological creep and advancement is pushing society towards a world of automation and convenience. Our days as hunters and gathers are long behind us, replaced with today’s proverbial rat race where society’s entrepreneurial pursuits and necessity to succeed have become top priorities for us.
While we no longer face the difficulties of having to hunt for or gather our food, many now have to battle technological complexities. Those complexities have nothing to do with the consumption of content on the web, and everything to do with the creation and marketing of it. With so much competition in the world, it’s difficult to rise above the fray.
Yet, if you’re serious about succeeding in life, climbing the corporate ladder or launching that hot new startup, you’ll need some foundational skills that are virtually a prerequisite nowadays. For those who accumulate the right skills, the world truly is their oyster.
For those who hide from and ignore the digital tidal wave that’s sweeping the world, they can’t expect to make monumental progress and get ahead.
There are dozens of great skills you can learn online to further your career or business prospects. Some tend to rise above the others and should probably move to the top of your list. Whether or not you’re technically inclined, so to speak, these skills will provide you with the insights to propel yourself forward, get a better job or promotion, or simply increase your income by providing invaluable services online.
1. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO provides the very bedrock and foundation for skyrocketing your sales in any industry or niche. People are far more likely to purchase from you if you appear relevant in an online search versus paying to drive the traffic there.
Clearly, by understanding and harnessing the power of SEO, you can send near-limitless traffic to your site and put your selling on autopilot. SEO is highly complex and convoluted, but if you master any of the skills you can learn online today, it should most certainly be this one.
2. Web development
As technology improves across the world – and more and more devices begin to connect to the internet – the necessity for people to understand web development is going to increase. From the Internet of Things (IoT) to simple web design and development, learning and harnessing this powerful online skill can give you an enormous advantage in the world.
Great web developers are hard to come by. However, if you’re committed to becoming a web developer, you’ve got quite the uphill climb – but that’s also the case in any other notable field.
Just remember, this single skill can give you a tremendous advantage when it comes to building and launching an online business.
3. Online marketing
This isn’t just about SEO. This is about the fundamental principles that are driving traffic through mediums like social media and ads. Learn the mechanics of online marketing, and you’ll be able to drive considerable traffic and scale out whatever business you decide to create.
This will also help you make money online through either passive income or active income activities. There’s a lot of multidisciplinary content to consume and understand here, but it’s definitely well worth it.
4. Email marketing
Email marketing is alive and well. In fact, it’s one of the surest ways to make considerable amounts of money on the internet today. If you master the skill of email marketing, and learn how to build an effective sales funnel, you can virtually skyrocket your sales and income.
This isn’t just about writing compelling sales letters; it’s also about understanding what types of emails get clicked on and lead to active interests and purchases. Email marketing is a skill that can easily be learned online, but it’s also something that will require a significant amount of practice on your end to get it right.
5. Graphic design
Today, aesthetics are an important part of business and sales. Not only do you have to focus on functionality, you also have to focus on the overall design. By learning the highly important skill of graphic design, you’ll understand the fundamentals that make things attractive, clickable and thus, more saleable.
Learning graphic design involves mastering programmes like Photoshop, Illustrator and other popular tools that will allow you to create stunning visual designs. These programmes are an important part of the process in truly absorbing fundamental graphic design skills. It will take some significant practice, but it will be well worth it in the end.
Some of the world’s leading professionals are also the best copywriters. If you can write compelling copy that sells people on whatever it is you’re peddling, you’ll be far more likely to make the sale. Imagine being able to persuade droves of customers to purchase just about anything from you.
The skill of copywriting is definitely one that takes time to acquire, but it’s also one of the best skills you could learn. Use sites like Udemy and Lynda to sign up for an online course where you can learn the fundamentals involved in this highly lucrative skill.
Photography is filled with a variety of nuances and skills that evade most people interested in this field. Not only do you have to understand the art of photography itself, but also everything there is to know about cameras, lenses, contextual settings and how to enhance the imagery itself using photo editing software.
You can use your photography skill set to not only make money by actively assisting others with event or portrait photography, but also by creating stock imagery that you can sell on a variety of popular websites such as Shutterstock and iStockPhoto. Find a good course to learn this skill, and be prepared to buy a good camera and practice taking as many photos as possible.
8. Translating and languages
Understanding and learning foreign languages is an incredible skill to have and one that you can use in a variety of situations. Not only is this great to have when traveling, but it’s also a useful when working to translate and convey documents from one language to another.
You can also use your knowledge of a second language to help tutor people online via Skype or FaceTime – maybe even making a little side income. It’s not difficult to pick up this skill online. Whether you take a course or download a programme through Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur’s audiobooks, for example, learning foreign languages is an advantageous skill to have no matter what the situation.
9. Statistical data analysis
Another great skill to learn online is statistical data analysis. We all know that, in order to achieve our goals, we need to get very good at analysing data. Statistical analysis and regression analysis are two ways we can help to identify relationships between variables that can then be adjusted and refined in order for us to achieve our goals.
Statistical data analysis is a great skill to have in a variety of situations. We can use it to analyse website traffic and to better gauge if our marketing efforts are paying off. It can be used in a number of other situations as well, and the more knowledgeable you are in this skill, the better you can be at just about any endeavour.
10. Psychology and human behaviour
I’ve had a mild fascination with psychology and human behaviour as long as I can remember. That curiosity has been a cornerstone in my understanding of why people do what they do and how best to leverage that information in business and in sales. This skill could benefit just about anyone out there, no matter what line of work they’re in.
This goes all the way into contract negotiations, settlement talks, buying habits and a number of other arenas. What colours do people best respond to, or where should you sit at a table during negotiation talks or meetings, or how can you understand if a person is lying by the way they hold their head or what direction they look? This single skill could offer you tremendous advantages in life and in business.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The Power Of Life-Long Learning with University of Pretoria
True success starts with how much you’re willing to do to achieve it. If you’re hungry to learn and develop, partnering with University of Pretoria can make the business world your oyster.
Professor Melodi Botha is an associate professor and researcher at the Department of Business Management in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of Pretoria. She is the Programme Lead for the MPhil degree in Entrepreneurship.
Her research focuses on training, educating and supporting entrepreneurs at different stages of preparing, starting and managing a business.
Why is it important for entrepreneurs to focus on personal development and education, even after they are no longer a start-up?
Research in South Africa has revealed that 80% of SMEs fail within the first two years of starting a business. So, if an entrepreneur makes it beyond this stage, it’s worth investing time, money and effort to make sure that they succeed by seeking entrepreneurial education, training and development to improve their business offerings.
New competitors are constantly entering the market and established entrepreneurs should make sure that they maintain their competitive advantage by educating themselves in areas such as the most current trends in their industries, changes in the market, offering more and better innovative products and services, staying close to their target market to determine the most effective marketing strategies and providing a stronger value proposition.
For established entrepreneurs, there is also the risk of growing too fast or not being able to manage their growth.
These entrepreneurs should then educate themselves on the most effective growth strategies suited for their business. Personal development is crucial, as entrepreneurs progress through the entrepreneurial process because they learn as they go.
An example is when established entrepreneurs conduct a personality profile to determine how to cognitively adapt to their current entrepreneurial environment. Weaknesses or areas of improvement, such as poor financial planning for example, are highlighted and entrepreneurs can then work on these areas.
What advice would you offer entrepreneurs who stop researching due to time restrictions?
Time is a problem for all entrepreneurs; there is never enough of it. It’s a matter of how effectively you use your time and how you plan the activities that should happen within a specific time period.
A big problem with entrepreneurs is also a lack of delegation, as they want to be involved in every area of the business. Entrepreneurs need to determine which activities can be delegated to an employee or partner and focus on the core skills that they are competent in and which help the business to grow.
What skills should entrepreneurs be developing while they are starting and then managing a business?
We recently conducted research on the skills that entrepreneurs need as they progress through the various stages of the entrepreneurial process. We identified two sets of skills, namely functional competencies and enterprising competencies.
The findings further revealed that established entrepreneurs viewed functional competencies such as marketing, financial, operational, legal, human resource, networking, technical, communcation and planning skills as important skills to have during the established stage.
Both start-up and established entrepreneurs viewed enterprising competencies such as creativity, innovation, role model interpretation, opportunity recognition, risk taking, need for achievement and the ability to gather and control resources as important during both stages.
More specifically, financial and legal skills should receive more attention when starting a business. In a similar study, we found that potential entrepreneurs should focus on opportunity recognition, opportunity assessment and creative problem solving during the potential entrepreneur stage.
At the same time, start-up entrepreneurs should focus on opportunity recognition, building networks and resilience, while established entrepreneurs should focus on risk management/mitigation, building and using networks as well as resilience.
Are there any tips and tricks you can offer to people who want to study, but still need the time to run their businesses?
Studying or learning should be a life-long journey that should not necessarly have an expiry date. I am talking about gaining life skills and developing entrepreneurial abilities through everyday learning. Most professional qualifications require continued professional education and I see no reason why entrepreneurs should not adopt the same approach.
Therefore, my first tip would be to plan to study. It should be part of a daily routine to study or learn more about an area where weaknesses arise. Many univeristies offer short courses such as three-day programmes in different speciality areas, which you can attend and not be away from your business for too long.
In early stages of formal tertiary education, my advice would be to focus on your studies first and thereafter focus on the business. This does not mean that you don’t have to start planning and aquiring resources while still studying. For example, our second year students, studying towards a BCom in Entrepreneurship, prepare their own feasiblity studies and compile business plans as part of the curricula.
What startling facts and figures has your research revealed that many entrepreneurs don’t realise?
In a recent study we determined that many potential entrepreneurs (students) show a strong entrepreneurial intention to start a business in future but rarely go over into action and the rate of actual start-ups, in South Africa, remains low.
This is also the case for entrepreneurship education graduates. However, prior entrepreneurial exposure, such as having entrepreneurial parents or entrepreneurial role models during the course of their studies, increased the start-up rate.
Another interesting study we conducted on women entrepreneurs revealed that women are in desperate need of entrepeneurial training and education. The Women Entrepreneurship Programme (WEP) at the Univeristy of Pretoria measured 180 women who completed the programme.
These women were measured on their skills level before the programme, directly after the programme, six months after the programme and ten years after the programme took place.
They were measured on eight different levels and the WEP proved to be effective in not only transferring entrepreneurial and business skills to women, but also improving their business performance indicators (turnover, employees, sales and profit). Some of the women (35%) started multiple businesses six months after they attended the WEP.
Ten years after the programme, the results of the study confirmed that these women’s businesses made a significant difference in their communities and the economy of South Africa as a whole.
Tips To Becoming Fluent
The ultimate goal when learning a new language is to use it fluently, as accuracy can be improved and developed over time.
Learning a foreign language can be challenging and difficult, and requires great commitment and motivation. It is, however, one of the most enriching and rewarding skills that can be acquired over a lifetime. There are proven benefits to learning a second language, for example, improved intelligence, memory and concentration, as well as lowered risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Fluency is the ability to express oneself easily and coherently in real time. Accuracy is the ability to be correct and precise, and it means that one is communicating without any grammatical, vocabulary, tonal or any other errors. The ultimate goal when learning a new language is to use it fluently, as accuracy can be improved and developed over time.
How you can improve your language fluency
There are a number of ways to improve fluency. Firstly, immerse yourself with native speakers as much as possible. Listen to them in their natural contexts and if you are unable to do this, watch movies and television shows in the language you are learning, or listen to audio books and music in that language. Another option for immersing yourself in a foreign language is to stream radio from a country that speaks it, or tune into a television station from that country on DSTV.
Find avenues to practice wherever and whenever you can.Having a friend to practice with can help you to stay motivated and focused. Practice speaking every day and try to learn new words and phrases every day. Encourage native speakers to correct you wherever possible.
Be prepared to invest a lot of time and dedication into learning a foreign language. Students are likely to stay motivated over the long-run if they have a good reason to learn the language.
The problem that many beginners encounter is that they become too focused on reaching a perfect end-stage that they get discouraged and never get past the early stages.
Become comfortable with making mistakes and try not to be perfect. Think in the language as much as possible, instead of thinking in your native language and then translating. Try to improve and remember specific grammar rules so as to avoid incomprehensibility or vagueness when communicating with native speakers.
Choose an comprehensive language course
When choosing a language course, remember to look for a course that focuses on all the language skills like reading, writing, listening, grammar and speaking. Read books, magazines, and other material in the target language whenever possible. Write something in the language every day, for example, a short sentence summing up your day, a diary entry, or an article.
Memorising lists of vocabulary can be quite challenging and very boring. A great way to build vocabulary is to learn vocabulary that is relevant to your life and things around you. You could start off by writing your “to do” lists and shopping lists in the language that you are studying. Practice by giving commands to your dog, labeling household items, and playing memory games.
Social media platforms are another excellent way of interacting with native speakers, as users are able to interact with each other over the internet.
Web blogs are one of the many forms of social media, and provide a platform in which people can express issues related to their lives and different viewpoints that they may have. Blogs address a wide range of topics and are used in many different ways, which makes this platform an excellent means to practice your language of choice.
Practice, practice, practice
Try not to leave long gaps between courses or take a semester off, as you will forget your language at an alarming rate. If you are planning to go on holiday, take some exercises with you so that you can do these throughout your trip.Consider booking your next trip to the country where the language you are learning is spoken.
If you are serious about learning the language and getting direct pleasure from what you have learnt, you need to go where that language is spoken. Above all, you need to enjoy learning the foreign language and never stop having fun while learning.
“Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses
The Internet is currently abuzz with advertisements for “free” online language courses and online education.
While developments in technology have undoubtedly created opportunities for more people to access education, the question still remains as to whether it is actually possible to learn a language solely with the use of an online platform. Whilst there are numerous advantages to using online platforms, there are equally as many disadvantages.
Benefits of face-to-face language learning
Online platforms are limited in their capacity to support group discussions, as well as the engagement with language facilitators and tutors. Many platforms are also unable to cope with the thousands of students that try to join online discussions. Language learners benefit greatly from human interaction within a classroom. Mark Edmundson (2012), an English professor at the University of Virginia, argued that online education creates a “monologue and not a real dialogue” in the learning environment.
Classroom environments allow learners to express their opinions, participate in debates, and engage in face-to-face interaction with classmates and their instructor.
Related: Ongoing Learning For Leaders
Language facilitators are responsible for explaining material, answering questions and guiding learning based on students’ needs and language levels in real time. From an online perspective, this resource becomes diluted, as often there exists back and forth communication between the student and the facilitator over an extended period of time. Within a classroom environment, learners are immersed in the language and encouraged to speak. Learning takes place in a pro-active way with a balance of learner-facilitator interaction and group work. Language learners receive undivided attention from the facilitator, and the pace and content of the tuition is thus tailored to the learner accordingly.
Two of the benefits of online courses are that they offer flexibility and convenient accessibility; however, they also require a greater amount of self-discipline, reading and time-management skills. Online courses tend to make it easier to procrastinate and they create a sense of isolation. These elements are not conducive to successful language learning. Motivation levels are likely to decrease when using online platforms, as learners have no real external influences to help keep them motivated and inspired.
The quality and accreditation of online language courses is also a concern to most learners, as many online courses lack valid accreditation and certification. It is crucial to enrol in a course that provides legitimate information and that is accredited with a relevant board or organisation. A course that does not provide valid accreditation will serve no purpose or advantage to the learner.
Wits Language School was established in 1997 and forms part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the last 19 years, the school has built a reputation for providing high-quality language services and short learning programmes in a dynamic and international learning environment. Wits Language School endorses interactive teaching styles, uses up-to-date teaching methods, and employs experienced and highly qualified teachers who are mother-tongue speakers to assist all participants in their quest to learn a second language.
Related: Why You Should Keep Learning
Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.
Moreover, Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-Time Studies at the University of Witwatersrand, offers selected undergraduate degrees, as well as a wide range of short certificate courses. Evening classes make all qualifications accessible to working people and busy entrepreneurs. Wits Plus also offers a range of online short courses that enable you to study wherever you are. Certificates of Competence are awarded to successful participants for both certificate and online short courses
Snapshots8 years ago
Habari Media: Adrian Hewlett
Start-up Industry Specific5 months ago
How Do I Start A Transport Or Logistics Business?
Snapshots10 months ago
27 Of The Richest People In South Africa
Types of Businesses to Start9 months ago
11 Uniquely South African Business Ideas
Entrepreneur Profiles5 months ago
10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing
Types of Businesses to Start6 months ago
10 Business Ideas Ready To Launch!
Lessons Learnt2 years ago
6 Of The Most Profitable Small Businesses In South Africa
Types of Businesses to Start7 months ago
The 10 Best New-Age Business Ideas You Haven’t Heard About Yet