I just finished reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I’m not telling you this because I want a pat on the back, but I was looking for inspiration to set myself on a continuous improvement journey and to improve my own business (i.e. doing a little productive procrastination), and one particular chapter stuck with me.
Sharpen your saw.
In retrospect, this chapter is probably the reason I picked up the book in the first place. I was feeling like I wasn’t moving forward. Have you ever felt like that with your job, or your business?
Entrepreneurs who remain static are doomed to fail.
Covey touches on four main areas as he describes the process of continual learning, and that you need a balance between the physical, spiritual, mental and the social/emotional. He also recommends you spend an hour a day focused on ‘Sharpening Your Saw,’ a practice I’ve also been neglecting lately.
How about you?
- What are you planning to learn today?
- What did you do yesterday?
Today, I’m going to run through my favorite sites for learning. Use them as you will, because there is absolutely no excuse for not being able to master a new skill. Put your hour a day in, and you’ll be amazed where you end up in a year’s time.
HOW TO START YOUR CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT JOURNEY:
Copyblogger. You’re going to struggle getting your audience to convert if you don’t know how to write compelling copy, and the team at copyblogger are the experts. They’ve got a course that teaches you the science and tactics behind effective direct-response copywriting, so you can incite your readers to take action.
HubSpot Academy. Learn from the masters of inbound marketing and website optimization. They even offer a certified “inbound” classes, so you can get a handle on topics like creating landing pages that convert, developing a pipeline of business that contacts you first, and get access to a community of like-minded entrepreneurs who have also completed the training.
Moz Academy. Arguably there’s no better way to learn the fundamentals of SEO and link-building for your business. They’ve got great walk-though guides which clearly explain everything a beginner needs to know, across a range of topics from mastering social media, getting your on-page SEO in order, as well as a wicked library filled with the latest insights to online marketing.
Wordstream. Their free PPC university breaks down all of the conflicting information out there about pay-per-click marketing, so you can better understand how to optimize the campaigns you’re paying for. Basics are discussed in the beginners section, before tips to make the most of your budget and advanced strategies are covered.
Constant Contact. If you’re looking to master your social media accounts, check out this resource page. They’ve got a series of guides on the most popular platforms, that are quick and easy to read, easy to understand, and better yet, offer strategies that are easy to implement.
ds106. What started as an online experiment exploded, and you can now join at any time to help you gain an understanding of digital storytelling, and how to use this to establish your online identity. The course makes use of your real profiles as you progress, allowing you to learn how to apply the concepts taught in the real world, with real results.
Codecademy. It’s not going to turn you into a genius programmer, but you can follow along and learn basic programming languages like HTML, CSS and PHP. Their free account lets you save your progress, and as you get more confident in your skills you may even decide to build your own MVP, or at least understand what’s being discussed when you sit in on a meeting with your developers.
edX. These guys partner with many of universities worldwide to offer quality courses across a broad range of topics. Berkeley, Harvard and MIT feature their classes here, so have a browse through the courses on offer and pick one that looks interesting.
MIT’s Open Courseware. In a similar fashion to edX, the MIT Open Courseware project makes virtually all of the content of their courses available free online. There’s even a set of classes that are specifically geared to startup entrepreneurs, be sure to check these out.
Lynda. This site became famous thanks to their detailed video lessons covering everything from Adobe Photoshop to CAD software. It requires a monthly membership, but this grants you access to every course in their 3,800+ library, where you can learn at your own pace.
ALISON. If you’re a diploma junkie then ALISON is for you. They’ve got over 750 courses which are standards-based, meaning you get a certificate for successful completion and the respective bragging rights once you’ve done so. Learn everything from how to start your business to ways of boosting your productivity.
Excel Exposure. It just takes a little knowledge to become a go-to Excel-guru, and once you start tapping into VBA you can automate just about any repetitive task in your daily work. If you’re a beginner, you can brush up on your formulas and spread-sheeting skills.
10 Fast Fingers. You’re never going to get through all those emails if you’re typing at 15 words a minute, let alone finish that blog post! Go check out the tutorials, competitions and games at 10 Fast Fingers and learn how to touch-type. With a little effort you will rapidly improve.
Did I miss any?
Putting this together I realize it’s high-time I update some of my own skills. Let me know if there’s any online learning you’ve done that has helped you, and don’t forget to spend an hour today learning a new skill!