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Are you responsible for your own learning?

I am delivering the Certificate in Learning and Development Practice at level 3 at a local CIPD Centre and we have spent quite some time on how to carry out a learning needs analysis for a client or company staff in order to be able to select the most appropriate learning approach.   But what can you do if you are running a small business or working on your own with no one to check out your skills for you?

7K0A0116When you are self employed you are responsible for your learning and your continuing professional development as well as everything else in the business.  So it often difficult to identify learning needs without that need being identified by another within the organisation.

When you first set up in business you may well have carried out a SWOT analysis looking at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business idea and used the results to drive your business plan.

In terms of your own learning this same approach can help you to focus on what’s important and what is just nice to know….  It helps you to look at the future and the possible things you’ll need to learn now to keep up in the future.

Here some questions to ask yourself when looking to see what your next learning should be.


  • What can I do well?
  • What are my best skills and attributes?
  • Where do I have the greatest talent?


  • What am I less good at?
  • What aspects of my work and life need improvement?
  • Is the improvement needed large or small?


  • What is currently happening which could give me the opportunity for personal growth?
  • – For improved performance?
  • With technical and social changes what new opportunities can I take advantage of?


  • What changes or forces may affect my current situation or act as a barrier to future development?
  • What people may get in the way?
  • How might I sabotage my own development?

Strengths and Weaknesses are within your control (whether you like it or not) so identifying a learning opportunity here requires honesty.  Whereas Opportunities and Threats are more about what is happening in the world that could have an impact on you and your business.  Blogging, tweeting and networking online was nothing more than a sci fi story line a few years ago……now we need to learn to harness it for business purposes as well as know what we are talking about with friends and neighbours.  What will be coming next?  And how can we start learning about it now?

Have you carried out an audit of your skills recently?

Have you considered taking a mentor to support you as you develop your business or maybe you can learn by being a mentor for someone else.

front-cover-mentoring-400x282More information on how to mentor or how to choose the right mentor for yuo can by found in the Useful Guide to Mentoring published by Pansophix.

Many of us have had mentors throughout our careers and lives although those relationships may not always have been formalised.

This Useful Guide is suitable for you if you are considering taking on a mentor role or looking for a mentor.
What the Useful Guide includes …

  • the role of the mentor and the benefits of mentoring and coaching
  • finding your natural mentoring style and the key qualities needed
  • effective questions to use in the mentoring environment
  • active listening – what it is and how to do it effectively including a self assessment exercise and audit
  • a learning styles questionnaire to help you understand how your mentee learns so you can tailor your mentoring accordingly
  • a Mentoring Competence Self Assessment questionnaire
  • the essential steps in becoming a mentee, finding the right mentor for you and working effectively with him/her to deliver your objectives.


2 thoughts on “Are you responsible for your own learning?

  1. Using SWOT when thinking about development is very useful, for myself and with my team as I use this method to highlight to them their needs during the review process and get them on board with their training.

  2. Hi Katie
    Glad to hear the SWOT analysis works for your team training. Excellent idea to use at reviews. Let us know how you get on.

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