In today’s highly-competitive job market, credentials can make the difference between getting your small business off the ground and starting dead in the water. New business professionals may be able to mitigate a lacking a client portfolio by showing your ability and expertise with an extra certification or an additional degree. If expanding your education, licenses, or credentials is what you need to pull in your first clients or if it’s time to brush up on new skills, below are our top five tips for balancing your education while staying focused on your business.
Do your research
Industries vary and the worst thing a busy small business owner can do is assume additional credentials will benefit the business. Find professionals in your field and gather contacts you can trust to help you identify the value of additional credentials, as well as the right ones. They may be able to save you time and money by steering you away from unnecessary ventures. Find out what works in your specific industry and position yourself to obtain only the credentials you need.
Be honest with yourself about work and life responsibilities
Once you’ve decided getting another degree, credential or certificate is necessary for success, do an inventory of your life and work responsibilities – but be honest with yourself. How many hours do you devote to your business? Your family? Your friends and organizations? List these time requirements by hour per week and decide what sacrifices will need to be made. Communicate these adjustments to the people affected so they can support you.
Schedule, schedule, schedule
If you’re a small business owner, chances are you’re already experienced in the ways of time management. Now more than ever, this skill will be invaluable to you. You may need to begin scheduling even the mundane activities in your life, like eating and sleeping, to make room for your work and studying responsibilities. It may seem silly, but get into a routine of over-scheduling, this will help you get into a routine and maximize your time.
Ask for help
Depending on the length of your continuing education, you may need to reach out to others to keep your business running without any breaks in quality or service. If you have business partners, now is a good time to give them additional leadership to lessen your workload. Before you start your courses, ask family and friends for backup. They can help with childcare or sick days. Be sure to thank and/or compensate those that help you for their time and effort – a thank you can go a long way the next time you need help.
Don’t burn yourself out. Balancing a small business with continuing education is a significant challenge and you’ll deserve a reward for your hard work. Make goals around your study or test schedules and celebrate successes in ways that are special to you. Instilling positive reinforcement will keep you motivated and refresh you. When it’s over, you’ll be glad you put in the hard work to further your career.