10 Ways Busy Small-Business Owners Can Make Time for Professional Development

Running a small business can be time consuming, so certain tasks may be pushed back in favor of more pressing tasks. However, professional development should be a priority. By taking the time to learn, you’ll be better equipped to grow as a leader and scale your business over the long term.

To help you, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) members answered the following question:

“Running a small business can be time-consuming, but taking the time to learn is important if you want to grow. With such a busy schedule, how do small business owners find time to learn and grow professionally?”

Here are some of their best suggestions.

1. Multitasking with Audiobooks

“Use audiobooks! There’s a treasure trove of mind-blowing content available to you for all those extra times in your day that you’re doing mindless things like driving, showering, brushing your teeth, walking the dogs, and more. Just throw up a good business strategy classic or personal development manual and multitask to make yourself a success!” ~ Jonathan Sparks, Law of Sparks

2. Put learning into your schedule

“Put learning and development into your schedule and practice excellent time management. If you tell yourself that learning is something you will come to when you have the time, you never will. If you’re not efficient with your business hours, you’ll never have the time.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

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3. Watch movies or documentaries

“I really appreciate learning from the experiences of other entrepreneurs. I maintain an ongoing list of documentaries and keep them handy on my iPad. I make it a point to watch at least one every month, either when traveling or in my free time. There’s always a business or life lesson or two to learn from them.” ~ Vinay Indresh, Space Joy

4. Hire a virtual assistant

“One way to free up time for learning and professional development would be to find a virtual assistant who can support you with your workload. These assistants can create content for your website, blog posts, newsletters, social media posts, and more to improve the quality of your marketing and give you more time for education and development.” ~ Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media , LLC

5. Speak at conferences

“Early on as an entrepreneur, I spoke at conferences. By sharing my expertise at these events, I was able to participate in conversations and attend lectures, which also helped me to educate myself. I highly recommend attending conferences for the breakout sessions when you don’t have time for planned study in your regular calendar.” ~ Matthew Capala, Alphabetically

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6. Use the time to relax to build your network

“At the end of the day, I like to use my ‘relax time’ to build my professional network on sites like LinkedIn. I find this strategy helpful for learning because there will always be people who know more than me. I believe that when I have a busy schedule, one of the best ways to connect and listen to these people is.” ~ John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

7. Use business problems as learning opportunities

“I think a great way to make personal development a part of your daily routine is to use business problems as an opportunity to learn. For example, when a customer cancels their contract, see it as an opportunity to deal with the disappointment rather than get upset, or choose to try harder and learn from the experience. That way you’re always learning and making progress, even when you’re busy.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

8. Attend lunchtime seminars

“A great way for business owners to engage in learning and professional development is by attending lunchtime seminars. At these types of meetings, you bring your own lunch or eat a simple lunch with a sandwich and salad for a few dollars during a free or low-cost seminar. Check with local business colleges or incubators for a list of their luncheon workshops.” ~ Baruch Labunski, Rangsicher

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9. Fill in daily “gaps” with learning

“A little every day is enough. It’s about the collective repetitions used, not the individual. Make it a priority each day to use break times, like driving or jogging, as an opportunity to learn through a podcast or audio book. Put on a good TED Talk or YouTube video in the morning and listen while you get ready for the day.” ~ Nic DeAngelo, we buy credit fast

10. Get rid of time wasters

“Identify the time wasters and avoid them at all costs to free up time for learning and professional development. Most of us are not able to manage our time optimally. Waste of time—meetings without clear agendas, disorganized to-do lists, distractions, and procrastination—can severely sap the time we could otherwise use to learn new things.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

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