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Ongoing Learning

No Time For Ongoing Learning? Try Online

How do you make time for self-development and ongoing learning? The answer lies in online learning. Enterprises University of Pretoria CEO Deon Herbst explains why.

GG van Rooyen

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Vital Stats

  • Player: Deon Herbst
  • Position: CEO
  • Company: Enterprises University of Pretoria (Pty) Ltd
  • Visit: www.enterprises.up.ac.za

Few people would disagree that ongoing learning is more important than ever, but how does one make time for it? How do you fit studying into an already hectic schedule?

The good news is that upskilling oneself is easier than ever and need not be as time-consuming as you might imagine. Not only is information easier to access than before, but courses are now available that make studying very accessible and achievable, even for busy business people.

Entrepreneur spoke to Enterprises University of Pretoria CEO Deon Herbst about ongoing learning for entrepreneurs.

Related: The 10 Best Online Courses You Can Enroll In Today for R200

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 SMEs are extremely beneficial.

Big organisations now have the opportunity to invest in the skills development of SMEs, and receive greater incentives for buy-back of goods and services once these suppliers have been upskilled to meet their requirements.

In return, SMEs are able to supply quality goods and services and the right technical skills to create the vital link of empowered suppliers.

Related: 15 Free Online Courses That Are Actually Worth Your Time

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Entrepreneurs are busy people, so how can 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?

Take a systematic approach. If you are starting out with a new venture, 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.

Can you tell us a bit about the sort of courses that are available for people looking to study while working? What sort of courses would you recommend?

It’s important to offer courses that address the specific needs of an industry. 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.

Related: 10 Free Online Courses That Can Benefit Every Entrepreneur

What, in your opinion, should be the ultimate goal of any course?

We believe that any offering should translate into increased productivity and enhanced customer service excellence. In order for any course to be worthwhile to the individual enrolled and his or her company, it should offer high-quality, customised and practical solutions that make a real-world difference to day-to-day operations.

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.


Remember this

Thanks to the fast-moving pace of the modern business world, ongoing learning is becoming increasingly important. Those who don’t keep themselves at the forefront of development will eventually struggle to compete.  

GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.

Ongoing Learning

15 Of The Best And Most Unusual Online Courses For Entrepreneurs

Improve your outlook, boost your marketability and get a leg up on trends with these digital lesson sessions.

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Real-world experience is the world’s best teacher, but there’s a wealth of knowledge online to help teach ourselves what we don’t have the opportunity to learn from a mentor or navigating life itself. With the help of online courses, we can apply some structured guidance to how we approach our interpersonal interactions, entrepreneurial pursuits and even the way we think. These hyper-focused, organised lesson plans can help us hit refresh and streamline our paths to success.

The following list of online courses covers a range of subjects, some but not all of which have a direct tie to running a business. From AI to VR to happiness to time management, entrepreneurs need to master a wide range of skills.

Most of the courses below come at an cost (often low), though some offer free temporary access to videos and other materials. Read on for an overview of 15 of the best courses out there for entrepreneurs who are lifelong learners.

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Ongoing Learning

6 Free Courses That Can Help You Become A Successful Entrepreneur

Outlined below are some of these courses you can take that will help you to become a more successful entrepreneur.

Amy Galbraith

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Becoming a successful entrepreneur is something that takes a lot of hard work and requires unique skills. However, it can be difficult to achieve this if you are unsure of where to start in building your career as an entrepreneur. You should look into taking courses from skills development companies that can help to develop your entrepreneurial skills and other qualities.

Outlined below are some of these courses you can take that will help you to become a more successful entrepreneur.

  1. Finance and accounting
  2. Business management
  3. Marketing
  4. Business writing
  5. Time management
  6. IT courses
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Ongoing Learning

Why Reading Is The Most Important Tool In Your Arsenal

Every great entrepreneur reads — voraciously. If you’re serious about success, it’s time to jump on their bandwagon.

Allon Raiz

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I hated reading as a kid. I hated reading as a teenager. I even hated reading in my early 20s. And then came In Search of Excellence by Robert H Waterman Jr and Tom Peters, which I was given as a birthday present in 1985. It sat on my shelf unread for seven years. In 1992, at the age of 25, I pulled the book off the shelf and began to read… and I’ve never stopped.

The irony is that In Search of Excellence has since been largely debunked, with the lessons it taught regarded by some as fraudulent. Regardless, I found this reading experience incredibly helpful as I tried to apply the book’s lessons in my first entrepreneurial endeavour, the New York Sausage Factory.

I am fascinated by the correlation between successful entrepreneurs and their obsession with reading. Warren Buffet estimates that he spends 80% of his working day reading, while Bill Gates and Elon Musk are famous bookworms. Self-made millionaire and author, Steve Siebold, has interviewed over 1 200 of the world’s wealthiest people and says one of the first things you’ll notice in a wealthy person’s home is an extensive library of books.

All the entrepreneurs I mentor personally are now required to go on a strict diet of one business-related book every two weeks. Any who fail to comply very quickly land up as one of my ex-mentees.

So why is reading so important for entrepreneurs?

1. Opens your mind to new concepts

We are the sum of all our experiences. Books open us up to the experiences of others, too, and show us — conceptually — how they have overcome some of the problems they’ve encountered. This can broaden your arsenal of tools to manage the future. An example of this was when I read The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E Gerber. This book completely reshaped my respect for documenting processes; something that permeates Raizcorp today.

2. Reinforces old concepts

We all know how lonely the entrepreneurship journey can be. When reading about how others have overcome obstacles or used a certain ‘formula’ as part of their strategy, it is very affirming when you discover that you are using the same ‘formula’ and it encourages you to continue pursuing that strategy. For example, one of the rules at Raizcorp is that we don’t do training only, and we don’t engage with anyone before they have passed our selection process. Very often, there has been a temptation to relax the rules for the lure of a big contract. It can become a lonely space in your mind when wrestling with that decision. But, when you read about other successful entrepreneurs who have stuck to their principles despite a commercial sacrifice and still succeeded, it encourages you to remain true to your own.

Related: Why You Should Be Reading More Fiction And Watching Less News

3. Apply what works for you right now

The saying that the master appears when the student is ready is particularly applicable to reading a book. You can read the same book at two different periods on your entrepreneurial journey and take away completely different lessons. A healthy way to read any book is not to believe it, but to use it as information that may become applicable to your particular situation. Every entrepreneur’s journey is different and every context is different, so it’s important for you to filter and discern the most important information for you to use or adapt.

4. Cheap learning curve

It’s said that nothing teaches you like experience. The only problem with this is that experience generally costs you money or pain. By reading other people’s experiences and thoughts through their books, you can identify different patterns that are replicated time and again. There is a strong probability these lessons will apply to you, too, and I would always err on the side of this ‘wisdom’. If you’ve read 20 books that all reinforce the importance of spending more time on selecting your team, you would be wise to devise a strong selection process even if you haven’t had an issue with this previously.

5. Great way to connect

Recently, I was sitting on an overseas flight and noticed the person next to me was reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. I had also read the book and loved it. I used the common experience to open up a conversation that subsequently led to a deal. Even if I haven’t read the book someone is reading, my genuine curiosity about whether the book is valuable or not can be a way of connecting with a random stranger. If they are reading a business book, it’s highly probable they are in business themselves, which increases my chances of widening my business network.

Pulling it all together

Reading books is not for everyone but, with apps such as Audible and a pair of earphones, nowadays you can have someone read to you. I never travel in my car or on a plane without an audiobook playing away. I find myself pausing the book and allowing my mind to wander as I reflect on and synthesise what I’ve just heard with a view to how it could be applied to my own business. Every book I have read has provided useable nuggets that have been instrumental in driving my business forward, and I believe they can do the same for you.

“Warren Buffet estimates that he spends 80% of his working day reading, while Bill Gates and Elon Musk are famous bookworms.”

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