Spread the love

The gig economy is going strong, and with 3% of employed workers in the entire country quitting in between November and December 2021 for reasons mostly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, this has forced people to look for other means of earning. This also means that self-employment is at an all-time high. As of February 2022, 11% of the 157 million workers in the country are self-employed.

Self-employment brings with it a ton of challenges, as you have to handle responsibilities that you would not have to worry about if you are working in a company – you not only have to be more proactive in finding clients and marketing your own business, but you also have to make sure that you earn enough so that you have a cash flow that is stable enough to withstand a financial crisis. With all these responsibilities on your shoulders, you might end up putting your own training and development on-hold, essentially relying on what you already know. However, self-improvement through training and development is necessary in order to stand out. Here are some ways in order for you to keep honing and keeping your skills up-to-date in order to make yourself and your business more marketable.

Set Clear Learning and Development Goals

Time management is an important aspect for any business, much more so if you are working for yourself. As such, the first step in making sure that you keep your business going while also setting aside time for training and development is to set clear learning and development goals. This is something that is not often practiced even in corporate settings, as data shows that only 29% of organizations have clear learning and development plans for their employees, thus increasing frustration and disengagement. Without a clear development plan, employees feel that they are wasting time that should have been allotted to their work.

Through a personal development plan, you can make sure that you prioritize the areas that need improvement. You can start by identifying your strengths and areas that you need to work on. You can even conduct a personal SWOT analysis as you assess your existing skills by identifying your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities you can pursue and the threats you might encounter as you pursue them. The most important part of setting clear learning and development goals is to make sure that you document your entire process. This will help you hold yourself accountable, as well as provide you with a concrete idea of your progress.

Make Use of Digital and Online Resources

Once you have a clear learning and development plan in place, the next step is to find the best resources for you to learn. One place to do so is to go online, as there are a plethora of online platforms that you can use to learn more about your industry and the trends in your field. The 2021 Impact Report released by Coursera showed that 20 million new students signed up for courses in one year alone, which shows the popularity of online resources as a means to hone one’s skills. As well, the same report shows that accessing quality online learning is primarily done to future-proof an individual’s skills, as well as to seek opportunities for growth and development. Coursera is only one learning platform that offers courses, but there are other learning resources that you can use, too. LinkedIn also offers its premium users access to various general and industry-specific courses. For freelancers in the creative field, there’s Skillshare.

If you’re running your own business, you can also invest in learning technologies such as LMS and LXP. These learning platforms will not only help you facilitate your own learning, but if you are running your own business, these will also come in handy when you are training your own employees, too. It’s important to know what makes LMS and LXP different from each other since these platforms have different features that, when used properly, can benefit your training program.

If you are more focused on discovering a wide range of content for career development, LXP will work best for you as it works a lot like a streaming platform that uses data and AI technology to match courses to your interests and existing skills. Meanwhile, if you also aim to train your employees, LMS is a great tool that will allow you to administrate and track their learning progress. By taking advantage of online and digital learning tools and resources, you will have an easier time in navigating the ever-changing labor landscape, while also ensuring that those who work for and with you do the same.

Continue Your Education and Get Certified

Taking online courses is good for honing your skills and learning at your own pace. However, the benefits that you will get from continuing your education and signing up to certification programs are also immense. Data shows that higher educational attainment is associated with higher median earnings. For example, the median earnings for those with a master’s or a higher degree was $69,000 or around 17% higher than those whose highest educational attainment was a bachelor’s degree. As well, those with higher educational attainment are also deemed more employable. In between 2020 and 2021, employment rates increased from 84% to 86%, but only for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. This increase in employment rates do not apply to those with lower educational attainment, as there was no noticeable difference in their employment rate between 2010 and 2021.

While this data mainly focuses on those employed by corporations, it does not mean that the same trend will not apply to you if you are self-employed. One of the strongest benefits you gain from continuing your education is that you add credentials to your skills. While continuing your education or getting certified admittedly requires more resources – be it time or money – it also shows how serious you are when it comes to your field.

A postsecondary degree or a certification is also a good way of establishing yourself as a figure of authority when it comes to your field, thus making you marketable and allowing you to earn more. For example, in 2019, IT professionals who gained new skills and who received certifications earned an average raise of $12,000 to $13,000. These numbers just go to show that getting serious when it comes to self-development by investing in continuing your education have significant positive results on your career, whether you are self-employed or not.

Make Use of Your Connections

One resource that you need to tap into in order to keep your skills up to date is people. Networking has long been considered as a necessity for entrepreneurs, as it allows them to grow their businesses and break into new markets. As well, networking helps entrepreneurs establish their businesses as a trustworthy one, thus resulting in a solid return on investment in the form of customer loyalty and increased earnings. However, networking is also an excellent resource for career development. Carter Cast, author of The Right (and Wrong) Stuff: How Brilliant Careers Are Made, considers networking as a way to uncover more opportunities to connect with different mentors and advisors and further develop your areas of expertise. In a way, networking allows you to gain knowledge from the experience of others.

Aside from finding mentors that can help you with the more technical aspects of your career development, networking also encourages you to further develop soft skills that are necessary for your success as a self-employed individual. Through networking, you inevitably learn to improve your communication and active listening skills. Succeeding in networking means that you are able to effectively listen to those you connect with while also expressing yourself well. As well, you also improve your non-verbal skills, which is particularly important given that your non-verbal cues account for 93% of any verbal message.

Your interpersonal skills also improve the more you connect with others, thus learning how to understand and get along with others. These soft-skills are essential especially for entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals. Working with clients on your own can be challenging, especially when it comes to knowing their preferences. The soft skills you gain from networking ultimately helps you in making sure that your interactions with your clients go smoothly.

Join Professional Events and Associations

Being self-employed can be an isolating experience. Studies show that 70% of freelancers have felt lonely and disconnected while being self-employed. After all, you are mostly working on your own, and even if you have employees working for you, they would not be able to understand the victories you achieve and challenges that you face as a business owner. As well, being a freelancer, there is often no one to turn to if something goes wrong or if you need guidance. There are also limited opportunities to get feedback for any work that you do, as clients would only comment on your final product, but not your process in making it. This sense of isolation can make your skills stagnate, as you have no benchmark to help you assess how you are doing skills-wise.

As such, if you are self-employed, joining professional events and associations proves to be quite an advantage. By nature, professional events and associations are made up of people from similar industries, so it follows that these are an excellent venue for networking. As well, membership-based organizations also provide members with access to training, research materials, and industry insights, thus helping them grow in their respective fields. Finding a professional association to join isn’t that difficult, too. After all, there are over 100,000 trade and professional associations in the U.S., and seven out of every 10 adults belong to at least one association. This means that as long as you network properly, you are also likely to meet someone who is a part of an association that is directly relevant to your field.

Track Your Progress

The importance of developing your own learning goals has been emphasized at the beginning of this article. In line with this, it is just as important to regularly track your learning progress to ensure that it’s in line with the goals you set at the beginning of your learning and development journey. Tracking your progress is also a good way to identify the smaller wins that you have achieved, which are massive motivators that help give meaning to your work. Tracking your progress is also a good way to make sure that you avoid meaningless training as it allows you to consistently realign your learning activities with your goals. Moreover, it’s an excellent way to make sure that you are not overwhelmed by your goals.

However, how do you exactly effectively track your learning progress without using too much of your time that could be allotted to running your business? Tracking your learning progress should not actually be time consuming, as long as you have the right tools to do so. Online courses usually offer tracking features that allow you to monitor your progress on a course. Coursera, for example, provides you with a course dashboard where you will see a progress bar for every course you are working on. Furthermore, you can also use the digital learning tools mentioned earlier in this article. Both LMS and LXP, aside from helping you in learning and administering training, also allows you to track your progress. By using these tools at your disposal, you can easily make sure that you are on top of your learning progress without really spending too much time looking at how far you’ve come.

At the end of the day, honing your skills through learning and development is a process. It is important to focus on your progress instead of perfecting an end-product because at the end of the day, training and development, particularly for self-employed people, should be considered as both goals to achieve and a process to complete. Consistently improving your skill set by keeping them up-to-date is an important investment that ultimately benefits not only you, but your own business, too.

About Author


MegaIncomeStream is a global resource for Business Owners, Marketers, Bloggers, Investors, Personal Finance Experts, Entrepreneurs, Financial and Tax Pundits, available online. egaIncomeStream has attracted millions of visits since 2012 when it started publishing its resources online through their seasoned editorial team. The Megaincomestream is arguably a potential Pulitzer Prize-winning source of breaking news, videos, features, and information, as well as a highly engaged global community for updates and niche conversation. The platform has diverse visitors, ranging from, bloggers, webmasters, students and internet marketers to web designers, entrepreneur and search engine experts.