There is tremendous value in becoming a student of business in general as a manager or owner of any independent business. For one, there are lessons to be learned from how other industries and professionals handle challenges that impact any business such as employee relations, customer acquisition and marketing. By tapping into a vast knowledge base of other professionals/industries you can discover solutions to problems without the expense of paying someone to help them. The best plan of action is to figure out what areas of your business you most want to learn more about and identify resources that will help you hone those skills.
It would behoove managers of small businesses to get in the habit of waking up each day and scanning several pre-determined content sources that are of interest to them. The easiest way to source this valuable material is to setup alerts using apps. For years, I have advised my clients to setup Google Alerts for certain keyword subjects so that articles will end up in their email inbox organically. For instance -- if a manager is interested in social media strategy, she would setup a Google Alert for "Social Media Strategy", "Social Media Tips" etc.
Another great way to generate content right to your email inbox is to sign up for e-newsletters direct with content sources. I find the e-newsletters of international accounting and management consulting firms extremely valuable because they cover a lot of ground and are very focused in the interests of their customers and prospects. From innovation to taxation tips receiving an email from one of those types of firms can glean a tremendous amount of actionable and valuable tips.
Lastly, for those who would prefer a bucket of ice water dumped on them rather than read (you know who you are), I highly suggest reading by listening to audiobooks and podcasts. Podcasts are usually free and easy to listen to via your smartphone or computer and there are podcasts available on pretty much any subject you can imagine. Check out my podcast at momentmasters.com as well as others. You can hop on to Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Spotify, among many others and explore. If you are old school, most public libraries have audiobooks on CD and more progressive libraries provide access to audiobooks and e-books through an app free of charge such as OverDrive.
When to read or listen is up to you, however, I find that perusing e-news upon rising in the morning and listening to podcasts and audiobooks in the morning while getting dressed or driving optimizes that time for me. There are many ways to access content that can enlighten you beyond your core knowledge of the business you are in, take the time to figure out what you most want to learn more about and get reading or listening to give yourself a leg up on your competition.