Keep Your Skills Sharp and Grow Professionally – December 1, 2020
By Patrick Young, Guest Contributor
When you work in IT, you are keenly aware of how rapidly the world of technology changes. Because of this, you have to keep your skills sharp or you’ll quickly fall behind. It’s the same with business. And, for earning your keep within it!
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Learning Never Stops
It doesn’t matter which branch of tech you work in, things change, and fast. Because of this, your first line of defense against stagnant skills is to adopt a never-quit-learning mentality. Refining your skills starts with mastering new ones and understanding how the languages, systems, and processes you already know change and adapt as our digital age dictates.
While you can certainly work on developing skills you already have, you should also be open to trying something different. Take a class on a new language that you’ve never used, indulge in the latest advancements in cybersecurity, or get to know “block-chain” computing.
Be Business Savvy
If you’re in the tech field and want to branch out on your own, you’ll also need to spend some time learning about business. As an entrepreneur-hopeful, start by taking the time to understand the different types of business structures. For many freelancers, a sole proprietorship makes sense. But, if you plan to hire staff or will be onsite at your customers’ locations, an LLC or corporation may be your best bet. How these entities are formed varies by state, so it may be best to contact a formation service before you get started.
Another aspect of being an entrepreneur means that you have to break out of your comfort zone and learn to market yourself. This is an area where many new business owners struggle. Do not be afraid to showcase your skills. You can utilize your extensive knowledge of technology to create your own website and to ensure that your social media pages remain up-to-date.
You will also need to become acquainted with self-employment taxes, business licensing, and any restrictions that may be imposed upon your industry.
Grow without the PC
Even though you work in technology, you don’t necessarily have to have a laptop or PC to reinforce your knowledge base. You can learn from your phone or streaming device by listening to podcasts. Entrepreneur suggests several broadcasts that will cover everything you need to know about the business world in fun, informational, and bite-sized chunks that you can consume anywhere.
You can also utilize your friend and colleague network. Set up days and times to get together and talk about a particular topic. You might speak about your area of expertise one week and let someone else take the podium for the next. This is also a great way to meet up-and-coming professionals who may need your help. By teaching, you help strengthen your skills, and you will remember things that you may have forgotten already.
Other opportunities are also available through online classes or networking with your current cadre of colleagues, but every step you take to improve your knowledge base will strengthen your status as an expert and entrepreneur.
The key takeaway here is that there are plenty of ways to supplement your professional knowledge, whether you simply want to refine your tech skills or jump into the world of business ownership.
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