Professional Development for small businesses

As we celebrate small business day, we spoke to Georgie from Black Lab, an SME specialising in digital marketing. They use the Leap Like A Salmon platform for their professional development.

“When Black Lab first started, we knew the challenge of owning a small business would be keeping on top of our professional development. There are plenty of webinars to attend, training events, and publications to read but how could we keep track of our learning in one place? A friend recommended Leap Like A Salmon and we haven’t looked back. Being visual and analytical people, we like seeing how far we’ve come and the Leap Like A Salmon’s system helps us visualise our professional journey, it also reminds us that we’re actively developing ourselves as well as our clients. On the days where you might be doubting yourself (as let’s face it, it can happen to all of us!) it’s great to log in to the platform and see the journey you’ve been on and everything you’ve learned along the way. As a small business, providing a service to other businesses it’s important we keep on top of our knowledge and offer the most up to date information. Professional development comes in many different forms and it’s good to mix up where you source your knowledge.”

So, what are the different types of professional development and what can small businesses do to keep on top of their learning?

There are a range of different types of professional development and depending on how you absorb information you might find one method works better for you than others. Some examples of the different types of professional development can be found below:

  • Knowledge conversations
  • Self-study and online courses
  • Training programmes
  • Live streaming
  • Webinars
  • Workshops
  • Podcasts
  • Conferences & collaborations
  • Blogs
  • Reading business books/blogs/journals
Professional Development for small businesses

Here are Black Lab’s tips on how you can keep on top of your professional development if you’re a small business owner:

  1. Set aside some time for your development. This might sound simple but professional development is often neglected, especially as a small business owner as your clients and customers take priority. Set aside a couple of hours as often as you can to read online resources or attend events and conferences.
  2. Make it fun. Topping up your knowledge doesn’t have to be taxing. Try reading an autobiography from a top business professional or a coaching book from those who have been there and got the t-shirt. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the mastermind behind the rise of Nike is a particular favourite of ours.
  3. Use an online CPD platform like Leap Like A Salmon to track your learning. It’s important to reflect on what you have achieved as a small business owner, having an online record of this will remind you of the journey.
  4. Variety is the spice of life. Get to know what type of learner you are to get the most out of your professional development. If you learn better through reading, read more blogs, books or enrol on a self-study programme. If you’re a better listener, attend events, webinars and conferences to step up your professional development.

The benefits of online CPD during COVID-19

In March when lockdown V1 was announced it was a nervous time for a lot of small business owners. The ebbs and flow of work changed and being at home for longer periods of time meant it was easy to get stuck in a rut. Doing online CPD helped keep the focus at Black Lab and Leap Like A Salmon’s online CPD platform helped us stay focused by tracking our development. It was a time of unknown’s and what ifs, however knowing our professional development was on track and our target hours logged was a real benefit to take away from the time. We had a professional development plan and we stuck to it thanks to having an online CPD platform prompting us to keep our knowledge topped up.

How the wellbeing wheel has offered a healthy insight

Leap Like A Salmon’s new wellbeing wheel has offered a healthy insight into our everyday wellbeing here at Black Lab. Thinking of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, if our basic needs are out of kilter everything else we do is affected. The Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly rattled our basic physiological and safety needs which in turn disrupts our psychological and self-fulfillment needs. It was interesting using the wellbeing wheel at the start of every week as it was clear how our attitudes towards work are directly affected by our hierarchy of needs outside of work. We started to see how important it was to keep on top of our wellbeing to ensure the work we were delivering to clients was work we were proud of and confident in – only then could we meet the self-fulfillment needs at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Using the wellbeing wheel to track how much rest we were getting and self-care we were doing had a positive impact on our work performance and only once we started to pay more attention to these areas of our wellbeing did we notice the impact. The wellbeing wheel is a great visual tool for any small business owner or professional, it’s a reminder that to perform at peak we must look after number one.

Prompts for reflection help us take stock

The prompts for reflection, posing questions about behaviours you want to reel in and behaviours you want to kickstart as well as behaviours you already practice that contribute positively to your wellbeing, were helpful and made us think objectively about the activities we undertake professionally and personally. It helped us assess where time could be better spent and how we can help our clients by kickstarting certain personal behaviours.

I’d urge any small business owners out there reading this to check out Leap Like A Salmon’s online CPD platform and wellbeing wheel if they are serious about exploring the business opportunities that could be out there.

Thanks for reading, please do share this blog if you’ve enjoyed reading it and let us know how you track your professional development.  Should you have anything you want to ask us, please do get in touch here.

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