4 Reasons Why Learning is the Key to Staying Ahead in Entrepreneurship

Have you ever used Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa? Ask it a question and you’ll get an answer. Give it a command and it will do the job for you. In another year or two, it might even give you life advice.

With this kind of technology already widely available, it may be time to start asking ourselves some very pointed questions. For example, will technology make skills training and development unnecessary? Let’s dig deeper.

While it’s true that technology will become increasingly adept at accomplishing step-by-step tasks that can be easily measured, it still can’t strategize, give wide-ranging advice or come up with creative solutions. That’s exactly why we’ll still need skills training and development well into the future.

Simply put, skills training, or lifelong learning, is the key to staying ahead in the entrepreneurial world as artificial intelligence (AI) assistants and household robots get better and better. Here are four reasons why that’s true.

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Keep up with current tech and always be in demand

According to research from Oxford University, 47 percent of jobs in the United States are at risk of automation. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean jobs are disappearing, as many would assume. They’re changing and evolving as more tasks become automated.

James Bessen, an economist at Boston University, notes that jobs that involve the use of computers have increased since 1980. So technology isn’t killing jobs, but rather shifting the way we work. This is forcing people to change, or more accurately, learn more. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur in the digital age, you have to learn to work with and use new technology to do your job better.

Marketing is one field where this need for lifelong learning is incredibly clear, especially when you consider that many tasks can be automated, like advertising on social media, sending emails and collecting and reporting data.

As Neil Patel, a leading online marketer, notes, all marketers now require new digital skills that are higher on the value chain, like the ability to craft pay-per-click campaigns, build social media strategies and create mobile marketing plans. They also need to be able to analyze data and make that analysis actionable.

Related: Artificial Intelligence and its Growing Impact on Startups

Degrees are great, but you can’t learn skills that don’t exist yet

You can find tons of evidence out there showing why getting a college degree is beneficial over a lifetime. But the point of a higher education should be to learn how to learn. This will prepare you for continual learning throughout your career.

What you learn about a specific subject is always changing due to new technology, research and ideas—especially in a field like marketing. The methods you use to get a job done today won’t be the same tomorrow.

For example, if you graduated with a marketing degree in the early 1980s, you probably had no idea what content marketing was at the time, because it didn’t exist.

However, if you want to be attractive in marketing today, you must learn all about content marketing. After all, between 2011 and 2015, job listings for content marketers grew by 350 percent on Indeed.

Certain jobs evolve—and so should you

If you follow online marketing trends, you may have heard that SEO is dead. If you look more closely, you’ll see that as Google repeatedly unveils earth-shattering algorithm changes, the SEO industry evolves to meet those changes.

When LinkedIn interviewed Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz and one of the world’s leading SEO experts, he elaborated on how SEO has evolved. It may have started with stuffing keywords to rank high on Google, but now SEO specialists must understand the intricacies of complex algorithms, like indexation and crawling.

Like SEO jobs, most marketing careers aren’t dying. They are simply evolving because of technology. If you adapt and learn what’s required to stay ahead, you’ll be in a much better position for sustained success in your field.

Staying on top of these skills, continually sharpening the tools in your toolkit and making sure your company as a whole stays sharp will keep you and your company competitive.

Learn new skills to improve brain function

People are working longer than ever before, which means they must maintain (and boost) their productivity into old age. One of the ancillary benefits of continuous learning is that it actually improves brain function.

Scientific research has consistently confirmed the power of lifelong learning. Just consider these three examples:

While these don’t directly connect to digital marketing, the point is clear: if you dedicate yourself to a lifetime of learning, you’ll be able to continually pick up the most important new skills in your field as they come. You won’t be overwhelmed by new technology or ideas, like learning the latest marketing skills for the world of augmented reality.

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Take control of the future

There is a significant and lasting benefit to learning applicable skills in your industry. The unavoidable truth is that many entrepreneurial fields, like marketing and SEO, are evolving on a day-to-day basis due to innovations in technology.

If you don’t get into the habit of teaching yourself and your team new digital skills, you run the risk of not being able to adapt to crucial industry changes—and that means getting left behind.

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