Five ways to upskill your startup

July 30, 2018 Olivia Bechtold

Five ways to upskill your startup

Launching a business requires you to develop new skillsets and become a Swiss Army knife of knowledge and abilities.

As you create a business plan, overall budget and never-ending to-do list, finding time to invest in professional development for yourself and your team will be difficult. However, the value upskilling can bring to your business will be more than worth the time spent on it in the short term. Here are five tips you can use now to begin upskilling everyone at your startup.

Figure out the financials

Creating a budget and securing initial capital are just the first steps in your startup’s financial journey. If you do not have the financial planning skills to manage your spending and maximize your funds, you could quickly find yourself in the red.

“Ultimately, financial literacy is one of the linchpins of startup success,” says Victoria Lennox, CEO of Startup Canada.

Investing in upskilling your financial planning knowledge will help you balance the books without paying for outside financial management services. As with most other business skills, many online courses and resources are available to help you master financial management.

There are also some digital tools and software options available to help with your accounting needs, like QuickBooks, Bench, Wave and FreshBooks.

Invest in web design

Having an online presence is mandatory for any startup, and having an attractive website will help determine the success of your online existence. You don’t need to become a coding guru to upskill your startup—but learning essential web design tools and terminology will help you manage simple site changes. It will also make it easier to communicate your needs if you eventually outsource some or all of your web design work.

Many design services offer ready-made templates to help you, even if you have little or no coding experience, create the perfect website:

WordPress is affordable, easy to use and has an intuitive interface. A self-contained system, WordPress does not require HTML editing software and can be managed remotely from any computer.

Wix is another low-cost website builder with more than 200 templates from which to choose. Wix offers an intuitive user experience with no coding knowledge needed; it can easily integrate with many third-party tools, such as Google Analytics.

Understanding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also essential to have in your web design skillset, so you can make sure your website attracts the people you’re looking for.

A quick Google search will reveal a wealth of blogs, articles and academic pieces on the importance of SEO, as well as the basic knowledge you need to optimize your web presence. There are also online course platforms, like Coursera, that can help you get up to speed on SEO best practices; some may also be offered through your local public library.

Become social media savvy

Sharpening your social media skills goes hand-in-hand with growing your digital presence.

Industry leaders around the world are investing in digital upskilling to enhance their social media strategies and SEO skills.

Global Chief Digital Officer for L’Oréal Lubomira Rochet, for example, has made digital upskilling a key focus of the company’s recent digital transformation strategy.

There are many free or low-cost courses available to sharpen your social media skills, such as those offered by HootSuite Academy and LinkedIn Learning. HootSuite also provides services to help you more efficiently manage your social media presence and track your online engagement.

As you continue to build your skillset, be sure to share your knowledge in online forums and groups to promote your startup as a digital leader in your industry; these forums may also become sources of new information for you and your team.

Master project management

Delegation is part of running any startup, but keeping track of each employee and all your projects’ moving parts can feel like herding cats. That said, your ability to create and delegate tasks, identify objectives and break large projects into small, achievable tasks is crucial to your startup’s success.

In addition to online learning resources such as courses, articles and digital events, there are also many apps available to streamline your project management needs. Project management tools like Asana and Trello, for example, allow you to break projects down by deliverables and assign tasks directly to team members.

Tune into webinars, podcasts and livestreams

Webinars, podcasts and livestreams offer low-cost or free ways to gain inside knowledge from industry experts and successful entrepreneurs around the world. Apps like iTunes and GooglePlay allow you to stream digital content and sync across your devices.

To eliminate scheduling barriers, online events often provide recordings so you can tune in later; you can also subscribe to the content and channels you prefer. While you’re busily upskilling your startup, don’t forget to document your new skills to present to current or future clients, and to continue building on them as you scale your business.

Ultimately, upskilling your startup and ensuring team members are keeping their skills and knowledge up to date gives your business a competitive edge—by improving productivity, deepening expertise, encouraging a culture of discovery and opening up time and resources for innovation, client acquisition and growth.

About the Author

Olivia is a communications professional with a passion for digital engagement. A graduate of the University of Guelph and Algonquin College, Olivia has worked with many Canadian startups to leverage their brands through engaging content and innovative enga

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