Nowadays, trends and technology change fast. You have to stay up-to-date in your industry or business area or risk getting left behind. I love doing research in my industry (graphic design) as well as small business in general. I find that it always brings inspiration, as well as knowledge.

Here are a few ways to stay up-to-date:

·         Conferences & Workshops – Though it’s important to seek out conferences where you can meet your target market, it’s just as important to brush up on your own skills. For example, I regularly attend graphic design-related conferences or workshops to learn the latest trends or software tips.

·         Online learning courses – Some services offer unlimited access to all of their content for a monthly fee. While others offer a series of webinars for a flat fee. Both are a great option if you are in need of brushing up  or learning a new skill quickly.

·         Books – I highly recommend building up a library of small business books for your office. Or create a book exchange with fellow small business owners. And don’t forget the library—it’s a great, free resource for business books.

And before you say, “Wait, I can’t afford to spend on conferences, online learning, etc.” there are many free resources as well: 

·         Webinars – Do a little searching online and you can find free or low-cost webinars on every topic.

·         Whitepapers or other downloads – Most industry thought leaders offer free whitepapers or tipsheets on their websites. I keep many of these as small business references.

·         Local small business centers – Most cities have small business centers that offer free counseling or events. For example, in Chicago, SCORE and the Women’s Business Development Center hold regular workshops, many of them free of charge. It’s also a great way to network with other business owners. 

·         Small business groups or “meetups” – Many local groups host speakers on business topics at their monthly events—a great way to stay up-to-date and network with your peers.

Ready to start learning?