If you’re going to build a great business you will have learned better ways of dong things. I find that those who are curious have a much better chance of success than those that believe education stops when you leave formal education.
Here are some ways that I’ve learned to learn new things that are either free or cost very little:
Find a little known author you like and give them a call. I often have very interesting conversations with authors who are not best sellers, but have written books I find very interesting. Often these calls turn into friendships that have ongoing conversations where I get to learn from an expert.
Find a master in your town and take them to lunch. Those are who successful like to mentor younger people. When I first started in business I had several very experienced people in the vending industry that adopted me. These people became good friends and helped me learn important lessons that helped make my business become more valuable.
Offer to take a great speaker out to dinner. When you’re at a trade show go and listen to speakers you find interesting. If you really like their message, strike up a conversation with them after their talk. I find that you can ask speakers out to dinner and they’ll accept. People on the speaking circuit often don’t have plans for dinner and welcome the company.
Start a customer advisory board. Choose your most interesting customers and ask them to join your customer advisory board. These people will help you craft offerings for your business that really hits the sweet spot. You’ll get advice from your customers that is spot on about the direction your company should go to be more successful.
Put together a board of advisors. This is more expensive than a cusomter advisory board, but way less expensive than hiring consultants. Find two or three people who have an expertise you need but don’t have in your company. Ask them to join your board of advisors.
The discipline needed to prepare for meetings and the advice you’ll get will more than pay for the cost of the fees and meetings. Board of advisors work best when you report on the progress you’ve made on suggestions you receive.
Learn to listen well. In our society we often are thinking about our response before the person we’re speaking with finishes. Learning to be a good listener gets people to want to speak with you. If you become a great listener to masters, they will take your call. After all, even masters have a hard time getting a word in edgewise.
What are the ways you get free or almost free advice? Remember, continuous learning is something all successful people master.