- 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’.
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
Successful Adulting: Why Studying Isn’t So Scary
How to cope with studying as an adult.
Balancing the various priorities that fill your day is one of the greatest differences between studying as an adult and studying when you have just finished school. Students who have just finished school often only have their studies to focus on, whereas adults with full-time work commitments and/or a family to take care of have more on their plates.
While this is not to say that all new students having finished school do not have these priorities — more and more do these days — they also seem to have more support from the family unit. Adult students need to start their degrees with clear strategies to succeed.
Here are a few tips.
1. Make a time and a place that you can dedicate to your studies
This should allow you to work without interruption. Having your family understand and respect these boundaries is very important and critical to you doing well. If you have defined time to work, you can spend time freely with them once you are done.
2. Find balance between the various aspects of your life
The best way to do this is to not fill too many hours with unnecessary work. Work or studying can easily expand to fill any amount of time you allow, and so you have to manage this so that you have enough time to work, study, relax, and do all the other things that are important to you, all the while remembering that time on task is important to your successful future.
3. If you do not understand, you should ask questions
Don’t be shy! As lecturers, we appreciate questions and enquiring minds. Understanding something now may mean the difference between passing or failing in future, so ask questions sooner rather than later.
4. Form a small study group with others
There is nothing more motivating than being on the same path as others. Everyone has different skill sets and abilities, and members of your study group will help you gain a new perspective on your work.
5. Find a mentor that you can learn good habits from and whose input you value
It takes a lot of courage to find a good mentor, but this relationship will benefit you in years to come. The key is to find someone who is in a place in life that you admire, either from a personal or professional perspective.
6. Don’t fall behind with your studies and make sure you keep up to date
Take time to check that your notes are updated, in order and make sense. The best way to do this is to use some time after lessons each day to go over that day’s work to be sure you have the work well summarised and in a form that you can use for revision. Another impactful way to check your understanding of a topic is to find a friend in the class who needs help, and help them. You cannot explain the work if you don’t understand it. If you are not brave enough to do this, then draw a face on an orange or an apple and explain the work to the fruit!
Pulling it all together
Starting and completing a degree as an adult student is not as overwhelming as it may appear at first. The key is to break it down into small, manageable steps. By putting positive, constructive habits in place and surrounding yourself with a support system, you will not only obtain your degree, but enjoy the process of learning and growing.
If you’re ready to take the next step and fast forward your career, learn more about Monash South Africa’s MSA Executive education programme at www.msa.ac.za/msaexec/what-we-offer/.
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