Every freelancer, their dog, neighbour across the road and guy who delivers toilet paper (go who gives a crap!) has a great idea for a business workshop.
As the individual who is investing your hard earned cash into your education (not to mention the time taken away from your business), how do you know you should choose one business workshop over another?
Well, you don’t. Until you get there most likely. Not 100% anyway.
But here are some of the things you should look out for when deciding on the right workshop for you that will help guide you towards the right educational opportunities.
Removing the gloss and glamour
I don’t know many universities or “on the job” training places that require you to bring your swim-wear, allocate time for cocktail drinking, or fly overseas to graduate by walking on hot coals. They also don’t offer show bags or have a ‘selfie with your teacher’ backdrop set up.
No. You pack your favourite pens and pencils, and bring a notepad along with your motivation. You spend time learning things you can apply to your career. In short, you get your nerd on.
So why should business workshops and courses be any different?
The courses you choose should be about gaining knowledge you can use afterwards. It needs to be practical so that the knowledge you acquire works weeks and months after the course has finished. It’s not about popularity.
Spotting the business workshop’s merits means:
- Focussing on the curriculum. Look for topics that are exciting to you and aren’t boring. If it’s vague and general, forget about it.
- Asking questions before you book. Don’t be afraid to test the program. And give coy answers the bird and move on.
- Looking for homework and signs of practical problem solving. Aspiration and inspiration can often be theoretical concepts. What you need is the practical application to your businesses’ needed.
- Avoiding “make $XX in Y days” and money-based claims. You can’t learn how to be rich. The only person who gets rich from a get rich seminar is the dude wearing the microphone head-set.
- Solving your pain points. Education should always be about advancing your skills and solving your problems as a priority. Always assess educational opportunities in terms of outcome.
- Skipping the personal branding workshops. Gary Vee has busted that little myth so I don’t have to. Stop equating visibility with business success and do the work required!
Ignore the testimonials
Yes, there is an audible, sharp intake of breath when you read this line, but it’s true. What someone who went to the course who was happy with it has to say about it means nothing in reality.
Here are the realities of testimonials:
- People use their friends, their husbands, anyone they can find.
- They are gathered in close proximity (usually at the end of the course or workshop) to the learning process. Therefore, the participants are on a high and happy. Hindsight doesn’t always see that high carry through to a later date or practical application.
- Some pay for copywriters to write their testimonials. Or they write the testimonials for the participants and ask if they can use their name. In short, they aren’t genuine a lot of the time.
- Larger organisations that franchise learning and courses purchase their testimonials from HQ. Meaning they in no way reflect the teaching skills of the people you are dealing with.
- All testimonials undergo a degree of editing. From only selecting the good ones to using part of the testimonials given, you are not getting the full picture.
- Giving a testimonial requires that 10 minutes most of the middle ground can’t find. So you’re either hearing from the fan-girls or the fanatics most of the time.
Besides, what suits someone may not suit you. After all, I might love the local steakhouse enough to write a review. Doesn’t mean my vegan sister will enjoy it.
Testimonials are (unfortunately) useless in most situations. So ignore them.
Make education a reinvestment activity
Do you know the second scariest trend I have seen in business (the first being people not paying themselves)? Spending money you don’t have on courses, conferences and business workshops.
If your life partner or parents are funding your business and that includes buying courses and conferences, please STEP AWAY FROM THE CREDIT CARD.
That is not business. It’s a little girl pretending she is in business.
Smart business is working out when you have a return on investment. It means being able to make money and re-invest profit. You cannot re-invest profit if you are not making any.
Business spending is no different to luxury spending. But this is the problem. The very same people who wouldn’t spend $2K on a wardrobe of the latest fashion when they have no money are the people who are spending money on the latest fashionable course. And it has to stop because it never leads anywhere productive.
If you aren’t paying yourself a wage and you have no idea of where your revenue is going to come from, spending money you do not have will not fix this situation.
If that means buying a $10 kindle version of a book instead of a 2 day B School conference, you are already 10 times better at business than the person who opts for the latter.
Make it your business to ONLY spend profit on education. If you can’t afford it with your own money, it isn’t the workshop for you.
You owe it to yourself to take your education seriously
Do yourself a favour. Write down the top 5 challenges you are facing business wise. Next to them, write the possible remedies from a small and large perspective.
Take those remedies and look at the pros and cons associated with each one. Write them down, too.
Then consult your bank account and see how much money you have to spend on the options available.
Factor this in, and build yourself a remedy and self education plan that takes into account the skills you need to overcome your most pressing problems.
Always make an informed decision. And don’t be blind-sided by your favourite business inspiration coming to town, or what the girls at the business catch up you belong to think.
Only YOU know what your challenges are and what remedies you can employ to succeed. And these will be the decent business workshops, what books to buy, blogs to read, courses to undertake and investments in higher learning that you need to make.
And if you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed and/or looking at ways to improve your productivity, I hope you consider Brook and I for Self-Care for the Self-Employed.
But only if you’re paying yourself. Always only if you are paying yourself.