Career development should be a priority for you and all small business owners. However, it's easy to let personal professional development fall by the wayside while you focus on the day-to-day management of your business. And sometimes time and money make getting an advanced degree challenging. Thankfully you can forget about that master's degree as there are several options out there that are effective and cost-effective.
Leaders need to do more than simply keep up with trends in their respective industries. As an owner, it's also important to ask yourself whether you're developing the skills needed to keep growing your business and your long-term career. Here are several recommended certifications that will take your career to the next level while you become a better entrepreneur.
Digital Marketing Certification
Digital marketing certifications prepare recipients to explore different forms of online marketing, from search engine optimization to social selling. Digital certifications are offered in partnership with major universities, private companies and under the guidance of thought leaders in the space.
A digital marketing certification allows you to learn about online marketing, content development, social media usage and digital analytics. If you're interested in growing your digital presence, you could significantly benefit from this certification. Google, for example, offers modules online to become certified in AdWords and other digital tools, and HubSpot offers training in inbound marketing.
Project Management Professional
Innovation is at the heart of any growing business, but many entrepreneurs don't realize that innovating requires effective systems to be successful. Running your own business requires you to track many moving parts, from the financial performance of your company to customer support.
A project management certification lets you master the strategies, tools and communication methods needed to keep projects moving forward and to help employees to successfully meet their goals. Knowing more about project management helps you be a better manager, run more effective client projects and ultimately create the systems needed for innovation. Local universities offer project management certifications, as does the Project Management Institute.
You need to have the ability to constantly attract new customers to your business, yet sales doesn't come naturally to everyone. A sales certification teaches you to look at the sales process differently and be more effective in developing that process for your company.
You'll learn about different selling models and how to perfect your approach to prospect research — and you'll get plenty of practice putting what you know into action. Sales skills will assist you as you grow your existing business and can position you for success in any field you pursue. The National Association of Sales Professionals offers a certification program that could fit your needs.
Business Management Certificate
Whether your degree is in another area or you simply don't want to commit to pursuing your MBA, a small business certificate helps you better manage your company.
Business management certificates typically provide you a foundation in the functional areas of business: marketing, finance, accounting and human resources, for example. As a business owner, you can use a business certificate to close knowledge gaps, gain more skills in areas that are interesting to you and decide if formal education is useful for your career trajectory. Check your local universities to see what kinds of certificates are available. For example, the Harvard Extension School, offers online certificate courses in a number of topics, including marketing management, business economics and others.
Big data, analytics and information management are hot trends across the business world. Increasingly, new tools enable you to measure every aspect of your company, from website performance to employee trajectory. Certifications in data analysis for business teach you about the tools used to evaluate information , how to design programs that show you what to measure and how to strategically apply these insights to your company. Data-driven management is an important part of getting ahead of your competition. INFORMS offers a course to become a certified analytics professional, for example.
Spending time and money on career development is challenging for business owners who have many competing priorities. Yet, a certification benefits you, as you can reach your career goals faster while also developing skills and growing your business.