Guest-post by Erin Palmer, of Villanova University
If you’re like most hard-working entrepreneurs, you would love to leverage your educational background and training to help your business grow. After all, you invested many years and plenty of money in your education. Now it’s time to make it work for you by boosting your business’s bottom line.
Using Your Degree to Make More Profits Starts With Networking
Along with your degree, you “earned” a valuable resource during your college years: a network. Successful business owners know that networking can be one of the major keys to building and growing a sustainable business. Here’s how:
- Finding unexpected opportunities: Most private companies don’t advertise when soliciting bids on contracts. The majority of sales are made through personal recommendations. Your network contacts can keep you informed about appropriate opportunities for your company.
- Locating the best talent: You’ll have much more luck finding proven performers by asking your contacts than by placing an online ad.
- Connecting you with mentors: No matter how much experience you have, there are other people with more. Tapping into a mentor’s knowledge can pay off by helping you avoid mistakes, improve operations and earn more profits.
- Multiplying your knowledge and experience: Your network is likely filled with people from all walks of life who have worked for hundreds of industries, in thousands of roles. Many will have the insights you need at various times, and all you have to do is ask.
- Growing your customer base: Network contacts can be your best customers. Plus, each has his or her own circle of friends, family and colleagues. This results in nearly endless promotional potential. Referral customers are often the strongest and will refer even more customers.
- Establishing a vendor base: Strong businesses need solid supplier relationships. Avoid over-dependence on one or two vendors; look to your network for supplier recommendations.
- Forming strategic partnerships: Many folks in your network share a similar customer base, but are not direct competitors. Referring work to each other is a great way to increase business.
- Knowing key players: Many business owner needs to establish relationships with bankers, lawyers, community leaders and political figures. Rely on your network to introduce you to these key people, who could help your business when you need it.
Don’t worry if a busy work schedule has prevented you from maintaining ties with your college network. Simply join your alumni association and you’ll be instantly reconnected to a network of people, whether you were good friends and lost touch, or you never even met during college. And if you’re not already establishing business connections through social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, be sure to get started as soon as possible.
Another way to leverage education for the benefit of your business is through professional training for you and your staff.
Seek Out Training That Can Increase Your Profit Margins
Education is powerful, and can be extremely valuable for small business owners. Wherever you seek more knowledge, whether in an advanced degree program, professional training, or continuing education course; attending conferences; or joining professional organizations, you’ll be doing yourself and your business a favor. If you don’t stay up on industry trends or continue honing your business skills, you could quickly fall far behind the competition.
Moreover, don’t neglect professional training for your employees! Professional certifications, webinars, software classes or on-the job training initiatives will help them keep up with industry news and developments, which can pay off in numerous ways. Studies show that better-educated workers do a better job and tend to be more loyal. They will also be empowered to help drive business by utilizing their up-to-date skills, and by confidently promoting your business wherever they go.
Use Your Education in Business and Enjoy a Stronger Bottom Line
Business owners are natural risk-takers with willpower and determination to spare. While that’s a powerful combination of traits that are necessary for success, it’s not always enough. By using these tips, you can also leverage the power of your education and training to make your business stronger and more profitable, and keep it alive for the long run.
This post was provided by Erin Palmer. Erin writes about topics such as business intelligence certification. Her work helps students learn about business analyst training options.