13 Mar Peer learning in small business
We are always learning in small business. There are changes in technology. Shifts in the market. Social developments. New opportunities arise, as do new threats. It’s a constantly evolving and moving situation. As small business owners we need to be committed to lifelong learning.
One of the best ways is through peer learning, where we learn from and with each other. This style of learning started in universities and is widely used in workplaces. It is also the collaborative learning concept underpinning our Beyond Business Groups program.
In simple terms peer learning supports the theory that two, three or more heads are better than one.
Types of peer learning
There are many types of peer learning. I am involved in a professional reading group designed to increase understanding of new research and ideas in the education space. We discuss our ideas, opinions and insights on particular readings and together gain a deeper understanding of the topic. It’s fun and very engaging.
Another approach is a community of practice where people sharing a similar role/concern/passion work together to learn, build capacity, share knowledge and potentially reduce duplication of work. Examples of these are writing groups and professional bodies.
There are also collaborative learning groups that may be formal or informal. Which is what Beyond Business Groups is. Our groups are organised and structured, and you can make them as formal or as informal as you like. The BBG I’m part of is pretty casual and very social, but we are committed to our learning, taking action on what we learn, and keeping each other accountable. You can find out more about Beyond Business Groups here.
‘Research shows that educational experiences that are active, social, contextual, engaging, and student-owned lead to deeper learning.’ (Cornell University Center for Teaching Innovation)
Benefits of peer learning in small business
Being in a peer learning group has many benefits for solo business owners, including:
- Learning more together. Understanding is increased and deepened. With the collective wisdom of your peers, their different strengths and backgrounds, you can fill gaps in your knowledge and gain valuable insights.
- Getting different ideas and perspectives. You can obtain different viewpoints, gather ideas and build on each other’s suggestions. People in different industries and with different experience can offer helpful insights, adding to your capacity to improve your business and innovate.
- Supporting each other. You can help each other with ideas, to take advantage of opportunities, or devise solutions to challenges and issues being faced.
- Socialising and having fun. This is especially important for business owners who are home-based and don’t have regular social interaction. Loneliness is a real and growing issue in society at large, and particularly for microbusinesses.
- Increased self-awareness. Your skills and expertise take form when you share your competencies and experience. It can help you realise what your strengths are.
- Increased motivation, productivity and achievement. By planning actions to undertake and committing to them in your group, it’s more likely you’ll get them done and keep your business moving forward.
- Celebrating wins and successes. Don’t underestimate the importance of celebrating with those who’ve been along the journey with you.
- With a group you can soar. Self-imposed limitations can be challenged, blind spots uncovered, new aspirations developed. Together you can push each other to make breakthroughs. Everyone wins and strengthens their businesses.
- Increasing your network. The more people you know, the greater the potential for those people to support you with their networks. If they can’t help you maybe someone they know can.
Make a commitment
By committing to ongoing peer learning in small business, you will be able to continually adapt and improve your business. This will ensure it remains strong and agile. Now more than ever this is critical for our businesses. Whatever style of peer learning you choose, learning with a group of peers is a proven way to succeed and take your business beyond.
Free info, tools and workshops
To keep up-to-date with all our articles and free workshops and worksheets, sign up to our monthly newsletter (we promise we won’t spam you!).