That's a shame, because learning more skills and tools is what makes us more competitive in a marketplace that never stands still. Here are a few ways you can improve your business knowledge.

1. Online conferences

One silver lining to running a business during a pandemic is that instead of in-person conferences and events, everything's been moved online. That means you can hear well-known industry leaders speak on their topics of expertise without the cost of airfare and a hotel. And most sessions are recorded, so if you can't dedicate three days to watching one after another in real time, you can learn on your own schedule.

A personal story: I was looking at course software (which I know little about) and discovered one company had a free three-day conference with lots of educational sessions. Bam. Done. Not only will I learn how to maximize course sales, but I'll also get a peek at the sponsor software to see if it fits my needs.

2. Books

Remember these? Yes, books are still great resources for knowledge, especially if you're in an industry that evolves overnight. I laugh when I think about the digital marketing books I wrote 10 years ago—they're completely outdated by now. So even if you read a book about, say, programming five years ago, chances are there's more to learn now. (Don't know what business books to read? Don't reinvent the wheel; follow others' book recommendations.)

You can also find really great e-books for free from companies that want you on their mailing list. If stats and reports are your jam, look for companies you follow to see if they have any free white papers that might sharpen your awareness of what's happening in your industry right now.

3. Blogs

I spend my days creating content, and I do a ton of research on sites and blogs. There are some I rely on heavily for the latest in my industry. Neil Patel's blog is a great example of one I use to understand the latest SEO trends. I also read a lot of Forbes Small Business for cutting-edge thought leadership. Consider who the experts are in your field and see if they're writing. Likely they are.

This is a bonus source because if you're creating content for your own blog (you are, right?), you can get great ideas from others. Just find your own unique angle when writing your blog posts.

4. Company resource pages

If you use software or tools, and wouldn't mind better understanding how to leverage them, see if the company you buy them from offers resources to help. HubSpot is a fantastic example of a company that has a ton of free resources to help its customers, including an in-depth blog and free courses and certifications. It's win-win: you as the customer learn tricks and strategies you might not have figured out on your own, and the company gets a loyal customer.

You might also consider requiring any staff that uses a tool to also take advantage of a company's resources, especially webinars and tutorials.

5. Learning platforms

If you have a LinkedIn profile, you have access to the LinkedIn Learning platform, which has more than 16,000 free and paid courses on subjects ranging from creating a marketing plan to raising capital. The paid membership is $29.99 a month.

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