Entrepreneurs, the self-employed, and those with small start-ups will be feeling the economic pinch more than anybody else during these times of strict social distancing as a result of the global Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. One of the best ways in which to keep your business alive and thriving despite the financial effects of these trying times is to focus on diversifying your skillset through online learning.
Here are the facts that you need to know about studying online, along with recommendations for the different types of courses to consider signing up for, and plenty of other helpful advice for keeping your establishment afloat.
Studying online – is it for you?
The reality of the current situation is that the vast majority of countries from around the world are either in complete lockdown or are operating with stringent social distancing measures put in place. Ultimately, that means spending plenty of time far away from human contact at home.
While you will almost certainly be filling the hours with work, damage control, and mind mapping contingency plans, you may also find that you have some extra time on your hands, too. Perhaps you simply want to distract or stimulate your mind with something new. Studying online can help to fill this gap, all the while assisting you in successfully diversifying your skillset, which could provide you with that extra ‘push’ and ‘edge’ to keep your business chugging on.
The great news is that there are several reasons as to why studying online could be a great solution for you. The first benefit of online learning is the fact that it affords you with maximum flexibility. For example:
- There is no need to travel to and from campus each and every day
- You have the opportunity to work at your own pace
- You can slot in time to study and work on assignments whenever it fits in with your schedule
- There are likely to be scheduled live lectures, depending on the online university that you attend, but even if you are unable to tune in in real-time, you will almost certainly be able to download an audio or video version of the lecture at a later stage.
Along with flexibility, online learning is often extremely affordable. This is undoubtedly a massive relief, especially during this time when money is tight and you need to be very cautious with business budgeting and how you assign your funds. Luckily, you can rarely go wrong by funnelling a certain amount of money into skill development. Be sure to look around for different online learning opportunities, as many institutions will be offering significant discounts during this period of social distancing.
Another benefit of studying online is the fact that you can often obtain your degree, diploma, or qualification much faster than you would if you were to study at a traditional college or university. The faster you are able to graduate, the faster you will be able to put your newly learned skills to good use when it comes to optimizing your business.
A further benefit that needs to be mentioned when it comes to online learning is the fact that you have quick and easy access to support whenever you may need it. Any online university worth its salt will provide you with a direct line of communication to academic support from lecturers and mentors. You will also often have a personal advisor with whom you can communicate regularly regarding your progress, and to whom you can address any questions relating to student success.
What to study
As an entrepreneur, small business owner, or leader of a new start-up organization, the best courses that you can study are those aimed at progressing and stabilizing your business. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:
- Cyber security: Edith Cowan University (https://studyonline.ecu.edu.au/) is one of the online universities that offer you the opportunity to obtain a qualification in the form of a Master of Cyber Security or a Graduate Certificate of Cyber Security. The unfortunate reality of our day and age is that cyberattacks and malware pose a substantial threat to businesses both big and small. By learning the ins and outs of cyber security, you can adequately protect your business from these threats and help to maximize its longevity in the long-term, as well as in the short-term.
- Marketing: Ultimately, it does not matter how incredible your product or service offering is if your marketing strategy is lacking. Nobody is going to make use of your offering if they don’t know that it exists. That is why marketing is such an important part of any growing business. It is sure to be more imperative than ever before once the world starts to recover from the economic hit brought about by the global Coronavirus pandemic, as businesses fight to re-generate profit losses and clients.
- Small business management: While experience is essential when it comes to effectively managing a small business, you shouldn’t feel too proud to further hone your skills in this regard. By studying an online course in small business management, you are certain to learn more advanced techniques, strategies, and approaches which could play a part in streamlining your business both now and into the future.
Tips for keeping your business afloat
The stress of declining profits throughout this trying time can take its toll on both the health of your business, as well as on your own mental health.
It is important to refocus your mind so that you can concentrate better on improving your skills through online learning, and so that you can provide comfort to your employees regarding their own job security. Here are some helpful tips.
- Pay extra attention to detail: Now is when you should be striving to make a lasting impression on your clients and customers by going that extra mile. Paying attention to detail is what could set you apart from other businesses like yours and keep customers coming back for more.
- Care for your staff: It is simply unavoidable; some people are going to lose their jobs as a result of this global pandemic. However, don’t forget that it is your team that will keep your business going once the situation improves. Make sure that you take the time to communicate and check in with your staff regularly.
- Perform new risk assessments: Most businesses will have already done this. However, considering the different circumstances in which the world is currently living, a fresh and focused risk assessment is necessary. Pay special attention to how your business is going to improve its approach to hygiene and safety for both customers and employees going forward.
- Use your downtime wisely: There is no escaping the fact that business is likely to take a knock no matter what you do to keep it operating as per normal. As such, you can be fairly certain to have some downtime available. Instead of letting the lack of business worry you, use this time to be productive. Work on your online course, brainstorm new product or service offerings that fit in seamlessly with the times, and perhaps take the opportunity to get to know your employees a bit better.
Most importantly, try not to let the stress of the current circumstances distract you from working towards your business and personal goals. Before you know it, it will be business as usual once again. Stay focused, stay positive, and continue learning in any and every way that you can!.