Making time to learn new things or refresh your existing skills can often come way near the bottom of your to-do-list when you have a business to run. Perhaps it isn’t on your to-do-list at all.

I’ve covered the topic of how to keep learning as a business owner before, looking into not only how to keep your skills up-to-date, but also how to assess for knowledge gaps and why it’s important to keep learning.

Now, I’ve come up with 5 more ways to keep learning as a business owner. Have a look.

Your web analytics

Do you know how many people are visiting your website, how long they stay, what pages they view, how they found you, or what time most people visit your website?

One of the easiest ways to gather all of the above information is to use an analytics tool to find out exactly how people interact with your website.

How does this help you to keep learning as business owner? You can:

  • identify your online audience, for instance, age and geographical location, and cater your content to suit or change your content if you want to attract a different audience to your website.
  • find out which areas of your website are most commonly viewed and improve the areas that aren’t so popular.
  • see the websites or social media platforms that are driving the most traffic to your website, and then analyse why that is, for instance, the success of one social media post over another.

There are plenty of web analytics tools around, but the one I rely on is Google Analytics. It’s free, easy to install, and allows me to tweak it to fit my goals.

Free online challenges

People often dismiss free online challenges as ‘fluff’ and ineffectual because they don’t cost any pennies, but they can be an excellent way to update and sharpen your skills without a heavy investment.

This year I’ve taken part in two free online challenges already:

I’m always on the look-out for online challenges that I can use to refresh my existing knowledge and learn new skills too. They can also be a brilliant way to network with like-minded business owners.

And as it says in the title, they don’t cost you anything – result!

Customer behaviour

When I say customer, I’m talking about your current customers and your dream customers.

Current customers

If you run a service based business, has your workload for your current customers changed?

If you sell products, are your customers buying the same amounts/products? Has the regularity of their buying changed? What is your most popular product, and is that a recent development or has it always been your best-seller?

Dream customers

What about your dream customers – the businesses or individuals you would love to work with and sell to?

Do they buy products and services like yours, or have they moved on to something else?

If they’ve moved on – why is that? Do you need to alter your offerings to keep up?

If they are still interested in what you offer, how can you tweak your marketing to attract them?

Your business processes: do they still work?

In the 1970s/80s, my father worked as what was then called an Organisation and Methods Manager for a large confectionary company. It was his job to look at the processes of the business and decide whether they still worked, and how to improve them.

For instance, when the company was installing computer systems to run the administrative processes of the business, my father was asked to look at one department that dealt with a mountain of paperwork.

George (not his real name) would fill out a form that had a white top copy, a yellow copy, a blue copy, and a final green copy. To convert this paper-based process into a computer program, my father asked George where all the copies went.

The white copy was forwarded to the supplier. The yellow copy was forwarded to accounts. The blue copy was kept as a way to track the order and was then filed when the order was in. The green copy sat on a shelf in George’s office – that was it. It had no purpose at all. In some distant past, it must have been used for something, but that ‘something’ had long ago become defunct.

As a business grows, develops, niches and side-steps, it can be all to easy to forget to change all the processes that help that business to operate.

Don’t be like George: if the green form doesn’t serve a purpose, bin it.

Social media

With any luck, your business is active on social media to promote your services/products, increase your authority, and build visibility for your brand. But social media can serve a business owner in another way too – identifying trends.

What are your current and dream customers talking about on social media, for instance? Is there a question you could answer for them? Maybe they’re interested in a new service that you could offer.

What are influencers talking about online? Are they creating/drawing attention to a new trend that your business could get involved with?

Follow trending hashtags to find out what people in general are talking about on social media. Even if they aren’t your target market, you may still learn something of use to your business.