Between 1997 and 2014, the number of female-owned firms in the United States increased 68 percent, nearly 1.5 times the national average of 47 percent, according to a report by American Express OPEN and Womenable. The number of highly educated female entrepreneurs with at least some post-secondary education increased 9 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to GEDI’s latest Female Entrepreneurship Index.
Continuing education can be a key differentiator for you as a business owners because it enables you to keep up with the cutting edge of your industry and stay a step ahead of the competition. Here are a few strategies you can use to sharpen your skill set while continuing to run your business.
Getting a degree is one of the best ways to continue your education, but finding time to attend classes while running a business can be challenging. The growth of online education helps lower this barrier by reducing the need to travel to class while offering more flexible course hours.
The convenience and flexibility of online education appeals to female students, who make up 70 percent of the online student population at the undergraduate level, a number that rises to 72 percent at the graduate level, according to an Aslanian Market Research and the Learning House report. MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) List is a resource for free online courses offered by the best universities that you can attend online to learn about virtually any subject.
Intensive Seminars and Workshops
Another effective tool for continuing education is attending seminars and workshops that provide an intensive training focus on a specific subject. For instance, Moody’s Analytics offers three-day corporate credit rating analysis seminars that provide delegates with an in-depth knowledge of rating practices for assessing corporate risk. Such formats are valuable for quickly picking up knowledge of a specialized subject area without the need to invest in the extended time commitment of a full-length general course.
An excellent way to get cutting-edge knowledge straight from leading industry experts is attending networking events that host presentations by expert speakers. For instance, the 2015 Inc. Women’s Summit featured a keynote address by Drybar salon chain founder Alli Webb, who joined such speakers as Stella & Dot’s Jessica Herrin, Yahoo Food’s Kerry Diamond and handbag design entrepreneur Rebecca Minkoff.
New York will host the Women in Strategy Summit in March of 2016, with speakers representing companies such as McGraw Hill Financial, Google, Fidelity National Financial and UNICEF.
Learning by Traveling
Some of the most dynamic developments in female entrepreneurship are happening outside the U.S. For instance, an Expert Market research study found that the countries with the highest percentage of women in managerial positions were led by Jamaica, Columbia, Saint Lucia and the Philippines. Traveling to meet female executives abroad one-on-one or at networking conferences can be a way to learn about trends before your domestic competition does.
Personal Training Retreats
Learning about yourself is another important part of education. Attending training to improve your own personal skill set can have an indirect impact on boosting your business skills. For example, Women Moving Forward hosts a Women’s Leadership Retreat designed to help attendees resolve any feelings of powerlessness by meeting other powerful women to learn about topics such as living a purpose-driven life, shaping reality through intentions and declarations, and redefining yourself. Such personal training can improve your leadership skills in ways that spill over into business success.