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June 5, 2009

Just when I thought I had it all figured out…

As a business owner you are likely an expert in all sorts of topics including what you do (hopefully), your industry, functional skills such as marketing, and even entrepreneurship in and of itself. And it is very easy to become complacent in your expertise. But there is something to be said about a “learning as a lifelong pursuit” attitude and approach to business.

In other words, there is tremendous danger to the growth of your business if you start to believe that you know it all and that you should be exclusively in a teaching position.

There is great value in letting yourself be a student on a regular and daily basis. We always say that you can learn something from any business regardless of how different it may seem from yours. Pushed further, you can really learn something from each person you met and every situation you encounter.

Recently, I (Amy) was invited to an event and it was a similar format to an event that I had facilitated in the past. At first I thought I would skip it, that it was of no value to me. But on further contemplation, I thought that not only could gain a fresh perspective about the topic but that it might be incredibly valuable to observe and learn from the facilitation! And it was.

This made me think of countless interviews I have read about teachers who describe the thrill of their job as continually learning from students. What a reflexive and refreshing approach and outlook.

As entrepreneurs we believe that we can learn a lot from our peers and in our community we seek to foster rich knowledge and information exchange. In large part, this is accomplished on account of our community’s diversity - along generational differences, age of business, industry – you name it.

We are continually surprised what we are learning and from whom. It should be noted that most of “our” good ideas have come from the in good company members themselves and we are quick to footnote them. And if there is one major lesson we have learned from the in good company community that the best thing that we can do for our business is to constantly put ourselves in a group of curious and smart people who are actively engaged in learning new things.

Someone who really exemplifies this approach for us is Donna Fenn, journalist and writer who has been reporting on entrepreneurship for 20 years. Yet, recently, her focus has been Gen Y entrepreneurs. Yes, much of her coverage is through a reporters lens but she has sought to capture what can be learned from the scores of 20-somethings that she has interviewed and her upcoming book, The Upstarts, shares 8 of these major lessons. You can read more on Donna talking about the project here and here.

So, we encourage you as entrepreneurs to consider:

* Who are you learning from and how?

* Have you stopped being a student?

* What you can do to change that?

posted by Adelaide & Amy
image courtesy of ohkayk

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