Many people wonder what they can do to become well-rounded and competitive while increase their rate of success. An often overlooked yet simple way to improve is to increase your knowledge by being a self-starter.
Traditional, structured education is very important, yet much success is derived from highly motivated individuals that have dedicated their lives to the concept of lifelong learning. These individuals prioritise the creation of time in their busy lives each day to educate themselves on new concepts and ideas. These individuals understand the importance of creating plentiful opportunities in all spheres of life.
Your business is only as strong as the people behind it. There’s a direct correlation between individuals who strive for growth in their personal lives and those who thrive in their professional lives. This can be accomplished by committing to the concept of lifelong learning. In an ever-changing market and world, it’s more important than ever to stay current, competitive and up to date.
Pursuit of knowledge is easier than it has ever been before, as technological advances can relay information instantaneously to our fingertips. It’s a modern day privilege to take this convenience and utilise it in productive ways.
First and foremost, you must be willing to expand your mind. Rid yourself of assumptions and convictions so that you can be open and receptive to new information.
This at times may even contradict what you have always believed to be true. You will eventually come across information that challenges your worldview. Rather than remaining static in your comfort zone, use this time to stop, reflect and shed light on these ideas in a way that can develop and expand your vision.
When you come across new information, take the time to think about what you believe and why. Is your outdated mindset preventing you from advancing in a modern world? Be willing to question new information and research it further. Digging deeper will separate you from the crowd and allow you to see the value in developing an independent mind.
Cultivating the mind prior to seeking information is as essential as cultivating a field prior to a harvest. It is a necessity to weed, fertilise and create space where information can blossom and grow.
As the soil of the Earth needs to be fed to blossom, our brains are the absorbent sponge waiting to be fed with new ideas and concepts. Water it daily to stimulate growth, and you will yield a bountiful harvest of information and knowledge.
After the mind has been prepped, the next step is application. Create a to-learn list just as you would a to-do list. These are ideas and concepts you have great interest in learning more about.
Many people may think with their hectic and already overflowing schedules there is simply no extra time to learn anything more than what is absolutely necessary to get through the mundane tasks of everyday life. To simply develop enough skill to adhere to your job description or be informed just enough to get by is a sure pathway to mediocrity.
This is where the self-starters get ahead. They understand the importance of time management and prioritising daily growth. They are constantly striving to know, learn and do more. This competitive edge they have created propels them to success in other areas of life.
There are many simple, effective and realistic ways to implement daily learning opportunities that do not have to inconvenience your life. Learning on the go has actually never been easier! For those who are auditory learners, audio books are the perfect way to incorporate knowledge with a simple press of the button.
While stuck in traffic on that 30-minute commute to and from work, simply play an audio book that suits your interest. Rather than listening to the same songs in rush hour, listen to a political debate on talk radio. If music is a passion of yours, try listening to music in another language.
Learning information you can utilise in your daily life is very important to having a continuous desire to further advance your education. Skill-based learning, for example, is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on auto maintenance isn’t the same as physically changing the oil or tire on your car.
Reading about art isn’t the same as picking up a brush. If your knowledge can be directly applied in a functional and fun fashion, put it into practice! Many people learn by being hands-on.
Make time one weekend to seek a mentor or attend a personal enrichment class. Culinary, fitness, dance or art classes are all fabulous ways to attain hands-on learning and experience. Volunteering at a shelter or children’s hospital are great ways to learn and culture yourself or your children and on worldly issues that may have otherwise been nonexistent to you.
Think about all the wasted time you spend sitting in doctors’ offices, waiting to pick the kids up from school or in a long check-out line. You could be reading a few pages of a book of your choosing. A simple 15 minutes a day could have you completing a new book every other week!
It’s estimated that Americans are spending 23 hours every week texting and on social media. Imagine spending that time every week on your craft or your personal enrichment. You could speak five languages and be a walking fountain of knowledge by changing your habits and mindset.
Surround yourself with like-minded individuals and try to always take something valuable away from your daily interactions. Many people are professionals in their field and have valuable information and insight to share. If you have questions, ask them! Never be too prideful, for each question you don’t ask is a missed opportunity!
Go ahead and challenge yourself today. Commit to expanding your mind, continuing your education and becoming a student of life. Utilise the world as your classroom, and no matter how big or small, always come away with a lesson.
Remember to cultivate your mind so it is prepared to expand, blossom and grow. And share your fountain of knowledge.
Related: 9 Things Successful People Won’t Do
My bet is you will slowly begin to notice you are not only achieving everything you are setting out to accomplish, but you have stimulated a perpetual hunger that drives you for more in both your personal and professional lives.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Forever Learning, Discovering And Empowering
From work-life balance to finding the right support, Constance Kawelenga CA(SA), director and owner of Zuva Financial Services, shares her top tips on how to manage a successful business as a sole proprietor.
“Every business has its own slice of the market; one just needs to define their service offerings and target market.”
“When I established Zuva Financial Services, it was under the ‘illusion’ of a work-life balance. I say ‘illusion’, because when you work for yourself, you put in just as many hours, if not more, than when you work for someone else.
“I also wanted the flexibility to be able to shape my working space around my own lifestyle and family, and not to have to account to anyone else. The rigorous training to become a chartered accountant taught me to be highly disciplined. That means when I work for my own business, I am just as tough on myself, if not tougher, than any boss would have been in a different setting. The plus for me is that I am able to be there for my family when I need to be, and compensate for this in a way that best suits my lifestyle.”
Being your own boss has its pros and cons. However, for Constance, it is all worthwhile. Setting targets for her business every year and achieving those targets is deeply satisfying. Again, this is something she attributes to her training — she values client success and feedback.
“Whenever I get affirmation from clients regarding the value that we are adding to their business, and they refer other clients to us, I celebrate those achievements. The growth of Zuva Financial Services’ has resulted mostly from referrals or word of mouth and that, to me, is a testimony to the value that our clients place on our services.”
Related: The Power Of Finding Your Why
Overcoming a lack of internal support
The hardest thing about being the owner of Zuva Financial Services for Constance is the lack of an internal support structure. However, Constance has developed a network of technical specialists that she can call upon to consult. She agrees that technical support remains the toughest challenge of being a sole practitioner.
“We offer a mixed bag of services such as accounting, taxation, secretarial, payroll and even Black Economic Empowerment consulting. Additionally, I have audit clients — some in industries with specific reporting requirements such as estate agents and attorneys working with trusts. On a smaller scale, the breadth of services is almost the same as those offered by bigger firms. The difference is that I don’t have the internal resources such as a technical department.
Prior to establishing Zuva Financial Services, Constance spent six years in audit, mostly in Zimbabwe, but also in Botswana and South Africa. Since then, she has also been exposed to other financial roles, where she fulfilled financial management roles for different organisations such BMW Financial Services.
Constance advises those aspiring to follow in her footsteps and open their own companies not to overthink it, or doubt themselves.
Don’t overthink it
”It took me such a long time to take my first step because I could not believe that I would be able to build up a client base. Today, there are times when I am overwhelmed by the workload on my plate. It reminds me of my mother-in-law’s advice when I started my business. She told me that every business has its own slice of the market; one just needs to define their service offerings and target market.”
Constance describes herself as “forever learning, discovering and empowering.” She adds: “We each have a unique walk in life — ours is to boldly step out and embrace it”.
TuksNovation – Accelerated Innovation With The University of Pretoria
The University of Pretoria’s high-tech business incubator will be launched on the 6th of August by Minister Zulu, Department of Small Business Development at UP – Hatfield Campus, to alleviate the serious challenges related to unemployment South Africa is faced with.
According to Trading Economics (2017), the youth unemployment rate in SA is extremely high at 55,9%. The University of Pretoria is aware of this challenge and has embarked on launching a high-tech business incubator and accelerator.
This business technology incubator, known as TuksNovation, will promote job creation by providing support for the commercialisation of technology, networking, mentoring and sustainable spin-off technology companies.
Fuelling the economy
In a knowledge-driven economy, universities play a major role in regional socio-economic development. Innovations arising from a university’s intellectual capital can stimulate economies through new product development. Universities are therefore highly valued in terms of economic potential.
Although the creation of spin-offs is one of the key mechanisms that universities can leverage to promote socio-economic development, few universities in South Africa have done so, and the impact has been very modest. This low success rate can be attributed to the absence of an entrepreneurial culture, limited access to funding, as well as technology transfer offices at universities that lack critical skills and capacity.
The elements of success
TuksNovation is based on the triple helix model of Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff (1995). According to the University of Stanford Human Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute (H-STAR) (2011), the triple helix concept comprises three basic elements:
- It allows universities to play a more prominent role in innovation, on par with industry and government in a knowledge based society.
- There is a movement towards collaborative relationships among the three major institutional spheres, in which innovation policy is increasingly an outcome of interaction, rather than a prescription of government.
- In addition to fulfilling their traditional functions, each institutional sphere also performs 34 new roles. Institutions that are currently taking on non-traditional roles are viewed as a major potential source of innovation.
Over the long-term, the business incubator aims to enable the development of industrial clusters with a positive economic impact in Tshwane. It is set up in partnership with the Department of Small Business Development’s Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA).
How it works
TuksNovation aims to build strong networks among academia, government and industry to create new spin-offs that can benefit society. According to Prof Elma van der Lingen, Chairperson of the Graduate School of Technology Management (GSTM) at the University of Pretoria, the TuksNovation model is based on allocating seed funding to students who are keen to become entrepreneurs and are conducting research on projects that have the potential to develop commercially viable technology.
“Annual TuksNovation competitions will be held on campus and interested students will be able to participate in order to qualify for TuksNovation seed funding to develop their ideas into commercial products,” she says.
The competitions will have strict guidelines and will be evaluated by a committee comprising mainly representatives from industry and technopreneurs. The technology development phase of the projects will be conducted in a virtual incubator in the University’s laboratories and at facilities at local industries.
The students will receive expert technical guidance from academics at the University, as well as technological entrepreneurship training. Various in-kind contributions will also flow from building strong industry networks.
Some benefits from this relationship could include:
- The use of industry facilities
- Research on industry-related problems
- Employment for students and mentorship.
Funding for the business phase of the projects is secured from external funders, such as venture capitalists, investors, and corporations.
Students with commercially viable technology will make pitches and submit business plans to potential investors in order to secure funding. SEDA covers the incubator’s initial operational costs. TuksNovation will initially support the development of spin-offs in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, but will expand to other faculties involved in science and technology at UP, depending on the availability of funding.
Knowing The Basics Is Not Good Enough Anymore
Being able to confidently speak and write in English has never been so important. Using the right words in the right way can make a massive difference to any company.
Do you know the difference between “organize” and “organise”? Do you believe “device” and “devise” are the same thing? Do you think a comma and a semicolon could be used interchangeably? Why is “talk about” considered informal language? How does one create cohesion in your writing?
Few people in the business sector ask these questions; it could be because they do not focus on the language they use in business correspondence or, as second language speakers of English they do not know the answers. With many pupils in South Africa receiving basic education in their mother tongue, many enter the business sector not knowing the basic rules of how to articulate an idea coherently or cohesively. It is often when they are asked to compile a formal business report or prepare a presentation that few realise the importance of upskilling their English proficiency.
At the Wits Language School’s English Communication for Professional Development unit, that is the main focus: Enhancing participants’ English language skills for the business environment in an interactive manner. Whether you need to go back to the basics; learn how to write and edit emails, proposals, memos, minutes or reports; enhancing your speaking and pronunciation skills in order to deliver confident presentations; or practise your critical thinking skills when using English in your everyday life, there is the right course to fit your needs and help you climb that corporate ladder by focusing on what many regard as a “soft skill”.
Related: Tips To Becoming Fluent
Business English students can generally be classified into two sections: those who recognise the need to address their language skills, and those who believe they do not need any language training. The first group often walks into a class not knowing what to expect and leave with more confidence in their English spoken and written forms. The second group leaves the class understanding language structures better and rely more on grammar and writing rules than on what “sounds right”. Regardless of the group you might fall in, participants who successfully complete the courses gain knowledge, understanding, confidence, a higher aptitude in English and critical analysis of the language they are expected to converse in.
Take for example the following sentences – “I write reports”, “I am writing a report”, “I wrote a report”, “I have written a report”, “I have been writing a report” and “I had written a report”. Although all of these sentences are grammatically correct, they are very different in meaning and intention. “We could invest”, “We must invest”, “We might invest” and “We should invest” indicate different intensities and degrees, and “Please see attached” is better than writing “Kindly see attached”. One should avoid using a colon after a verb or preposition when you list things, and “U.S.A.” and “USA” refer to two different writing styles (one of which is preferable in South Africa).
Today, many companies are recognising the importance of English in the workplace as a way to create better internal and external communication, as well as creating uniformity in general forms of correspondence and business documents. While some companies offer their staff financial assistance in upskilling themselves, other companies opt to complete training as a group. With classes being presented in a communicative and fun way, English training has never before been made more accessible and exciting. Public classes run every Saturday over a 10-week period, while more customised corporate training takes place during the week at a time and place convenient for the client. Participants often comment that they start to analyse, question and edit their writing more critically and that their superiors at work see a marked change once they start a short course from Wits Language School.
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