When it comes to progressing with your career as a business professional, it is easy to believe you should focus on building a company, developing a product or working in an entry-level role at another enterprise.
While gaining real-world experience is certainly a crucial aspect of improving your skills in business, it is far from the only avenue you can take.In fact, by focusing solely on gaining experience on the job, you risk flattening your learning curve, because you will be constricted by the role you have taken.
This is why taking an online MBA, for example, is so important. It allows you to develop a range of core skills without sacrificing the real-world experience that is so crucial to base your learning upon.
Although enrolling in a university master’s degree in the past meant uprooting your life, moving to another town, city or even country, and being forced to relegate your career to the sidelines while you study, an online MBA allows you to combine both your current career and a vigorous business education, giving you the best of both worlds.
Of course, while an online MBA forms a crucial pillar of this further education, thanks to the internet, there are a variety of other complementary sources of information you can learn from. This includes using free learning training tutorials (in particular areas of marketing, for example), or receiving information from business experts in the form of monthly newsletters or YouTube tutorials.
This is how education can further your career as a business professional:
Consider enrolling on an online MBA
One of the most powerful ways to progress with your business career is to enroll on an online MBA. This is because it will allow you to balance your current lifestyle and still develop a range of core business skills, practices and principles. This is critical, because one of the weaknesses of a traditional university course is that you would have to pause any current career interests you have in order to study full time on campus. In business, this is a big sacrifice to make, because it demands, by its very nature, considerable real-world experience in order to be successful in.
Instead, you can personalize your online MBA course by building it around your specific set of existing skills, meaning you don’t have to waste time treading water with content you already know. It allows you to focus precisely on the areas you are interested in understanding more about, using interactive learning to make the experience as powerful as possible.
Build your online MBA around your specific targets
One of the best aspects about enrolling on an online MBA is that you can build it around your unique business targets. Thanks to the multitude of electives and ranges of subjects within the course, you can pick and choose exactly which areas to focus on in order to further your career. For example, you may want to focus on building your career as a business accountant, or a marketing expert. By pursuing these modules, you can streamline the learning experience and ensure you gain as much use from the online MBA as possible.
Decide what career goals you want to chase after
Of course, you may not have specific career goals in mind, or a particular job you’re chasing after, but this doesn’t matter. In fact, one of the most useful aspects of an online MBA is that it gives you choice. You don’t have to personalize your course down to the last detail. Instead, you could study a variety of different areas of business, opening your mind to a world of new possibilities. You may find that particular subjects stand out to you, and some won’t, allowing you to make the most balanced decision possible when it comes to furthering your business career.
This is a perspective you simply cannot attain from purely ‘real world’ experience, as you would have to sample countless jobs in different areas of business before you could make a well-informed decision. This is a luxury that usually takes a lifetime to acquire.
Choose an online MBA course that gives you a wide range of options
Having a strong set of options is like gold dust, and this is particularly true in the world of business. After all, it is such a fast-paced, ever-changing environment, which demands a number of different skills to succeed in. Many industries suddenly explode, and others wither away as technology and changing consumer trends force professionals to constantly adapt to new challenges and areas of expertise.
This is why gaining a rounded education is so important. It grants you a detailed grasp of everything from accounting to business ethics and leadership, giving you a variety of options to pursue or fall back on as your business career progresses.
The importance of experience versus specialized knowledge
While having a balance of acquired educated knowledge and hard-won real-world experience is vital in all areas of life, it is particularly key in business. In order to further your career, you will be required to develop both areas.
This is because you can use one to super charge the other. For instance, you could have useful experience in a particular area, but you may struggle to apply it later in your career due to a lack of training or education.
On the other hand, it is all well and good having a strong business education, but the theories, processes and principles you learn will be useless unless you can equate them to solid real-world examples. Combining them both allows you to fast track your learning and gain a deeper mastery of these important skills.
Being an effective professional means seeing the whole picture
Following on from the previous point, one of the best ways to further your career as a business professional is to see the big picture. So many company decisions, from investing, accounting, product development and marketing are formed from a contextual understanding of the whole picture. This is to say, having a global outlook, rather than just focusing on your own enterprise. It is what marks the difference between an average and outstanding professional, and market leading companies from also-rans. By educating yourself – for instance through an online MBA – you gain a wider view of the business world, and have a more balanced perspective from which to make decisions and further your career.
To find an edge, you need to focus on the details
However, while a macro perspective is powerful, this should not come at the expense of the details. One of the most useful aspects of an online MBA is that it teaches you specifics such as cost accounting and business analytics, detailed training that would otherwise require a separate course to attain understanding of.Having a thorough grasp of these specifics grants you an edge when it comes to finding jobs, being promoted and, potentially, running your own company.
Use a range of online learning tools to further your growth
While an online MBA is a powerful method for furthering your career, there is no reason not to make use of the myriad of other online learning tools, in order to fast-track your learning and gain an even wider database of knowledge.
Although basing your education around a comprehensive course like an online MBA is crucial, you could seek out specific internet tutorials, blog posts and free courses that can help boost your knowledge of a specific area or industry.
This could mean anything from learning how to develop your people skills, charisma and leadership abilities to learning how to write code or sales copy. These complementary skills can be learned alongside your core education, and ensure you become an extremely well-rounded professional with a multitude of valuable skills.
You have to base your learning in the real world to see real results
In order to gain the most out of your education, you should consider continuing with your career as a working professional outside of your course. Although it is difficult to maintain both your studying, socializing and a taxing workload, you may find the results extremely beneficial. This is because it allows you to immediately implement skills and principles you have learned on your online MBA directly in a real situation, allowing you to hone your abilities and understand what works and what doesn’t.
After all, you could memorize as many corporate theories as you want, but until you successfully implement them in real time with real colleagues, products and customers, you have no way of knowing whether you can do it or not.
Education doesn’t stop with a university degree
It’s an old saying, but you don’t ever stop learning. While it’s easy to discount this as a useless cliche, there is a great deal of truth in it. For while an online MBA can be transformative, it is far from the last of your education. If you are considering moving into a new role or industry – or are just eager to better understand a new skill or process – consider finding a suitable mentor to guide you and teach you. This is a technique used by many leading business professionals and is a wonderful way to use someone else’s experience without having to wait a lifetime to learn it yourself.
Always try to learn from those around you
One of the best techniques you can use to further your career is to learn from those around you. While this could mean finding a mentor, a far easier and more implementable method is to always listen to your fellow students, colleagues and customers.
There will always be skills and ideas you don’t know, so it is imperative that you keep your ears open to what is being said around you. Many businesses create mastermind groups for this very reason. Effective teamwork really is a powerful method in furthering your learning, which is why online MBAs use a mix of solo and group work to create a more rounded experience.
Update your skill set as the business landscape develops
Of course, one of the sureties of commerce is that it is constantly changing. While there are a number of core principles that never change, you will constantly need to adapt in order to further your career as a business professional.
This is why learning how to learn is so powerful. One of the most useful skills you could learn from your university education is how to quickly and effectively master a new skill or practice in a confident manner. It is this skill you will have to come back to again and again as the business landscape develops.
For example, you may have to learn about a whole new industry that doesn’t exist yet, or develop skills in separate areas – like sales or leadership.
Focus on principles versus tactics in business
A detail that is often overlooked when it comes to business education is the idea of principles versus tactics. It is an age-old debate, but understanding the difference can transform your corporate education. A principle is generally considered a universal approach you learn towards a certain skill or practice. These are generally wider ranging and can be implemented more generally. For instance, this could be a fundamental law or rule in business.
On the other hand, a tactic is used as a specific tool and often only useful for one purpose. In marketing, this could be using a specific word or phrase to attract customers to your funnel. The reason this difference is important is because many people make the mistake of memorizing tactics, and hoping they are a quick fix to their problems, which is almost never the case.
While tactics can be useful to know (like tools in a toolbox), you are better served by understanding specific principles on a deep level. These will likely serve you well in whatever industry you find yourself working in.