Self-Improvement Month: Grow Yourself, Grow Your Business

online studySeptember is Self-Improvement Month – it’s also National Honey Month, but that’s a bit off topic for this space, so we’ll stick to the self-improvement topic today.

Many of you are self-employed, so it stands to reason that if you improve the “self” you’re also improving your employer, which is your small business. We’re so lucky to be living in the Internet Age because it gives us easy access to a myriad of information sources that contribute greatly to improving ourselves. Here are some of my favorites.


There are many sources of free courses on the Internet, but few can match the quality of what’s offered at edX. The world’s top colleges and universities have partnered with edX to provide courses on a wide range of topics.

Among the great business courses offered right now is one from MIT: Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer? There are great computer classes if you want to polish your tech skills.

You can audit courses or enroll to receive a certificate of achievement. However, don’t expect to get actual college credit.

TED talks

Inspiration and new ideas are central to achieving stand-out success today and TED talks have been feeding those fires for several years now. A good approach is to start with the playlists, where great talks have been curated by topics. You’ll find at  least two “business” playlists.

Kim Lachance Shandrow, a senior editor at Entrepreneur, wrote a piece earlier this year where she named three must-see TED talks for entrepreneurs. You’ll probably recognize the names here: Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, and Nigel Marsh. You won’t go wrong.

Reading lists

Do a search on Google for “best business books” and you’ll be overwhelmed by the results. Google gives you a very cool lineup of “books frequently mentioned on the web.” Further you can mind meld Bill Gates, see what’s hot on Amazon, discover all kinds of “100 all time best business books,” and more.

I know that books don’t really need a defender, but let me point this out: Any business book that has withstood the test of time is worth reading. TED talks and podcasts may come and go.

One more thing: Biographies are often the best reading for ideas and inspiration.

Learn a language

I recently devoted an entire article to learning a second language, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. However, for many small business owners, a working knowledge of a second language can be very useful for communicating with employees and customers as well as expanding overseas.


If you spend any time commuting or traveling for your business, filling some of the time with podcasts is an excellent idea. Again, search Google for “best business podcasts” and you’ll get some starting points.

Forbes, Business Insider, and LinkedIn have each offered curated lists of podcasts. I also have several podcasts on my site for you to check out.

These ideas should easily keep you busy all through Self-Improvement Month and beyond. I know how hard it is for small business owners to break away from their everyday responsibilities, but I urge you to find some avenues for personal and professional growth.

Sponsored by AT&T

Image: IMG_4227, by Robert Jemimus, used by a Creative Commons 2.0 license.