THE BLOG
08/25/2013 01:03 pm ET | Updated Oct 25, 2013

Back to School Lessons for Growing Business

As children go back to school, what they do is a reminder for business. Consider all of the things that we remind our children to do, that you might overlook in your business.

Reconnect
The start of the school year is a time to reconnect with friends. You may have lost touch with them over the summer. Of course, the best way to reconnect is not by sharing the details of your tremendous summer, but to first ask them about their experiences.

The same holds true for your network. Take the time to identify those people with whom you have lost contact, and reach out to them. When you do, be sure to start by asking about what they have been up to, and see if there are areas where you can help them. Whatever you do, if you have lost touch with someone, do not ask them for ANYTHING. Express interest, and offer to help wherever you can.

Be Open to Learning and Discovery
When my children say that they already know everything being taught, it first makes me wonder about our educational system. Shortly thereafter, I give them advice that says "You can always learn something new, provided that you are open to the idea of discovering something you may have overlooked." Just like when you see a movie for the 2nd time (or in my case, often the 22nd time), you discover new subtleties that you overlooked the first time.

When I conduct sales education programs, the greatest skeptics are often the seasoned professionals. The most flattering feedback I hear is when an experienced pro says "You opened my eyes to new concepts I had not considered."  I only deserve a very small part of the credit. If that professional had not been open to learning new things, they never would have heard the ideas. The best ideas are usually a collaborative effort.

Help is always available
When children are struggling, they can ask a fellow student or the teacher, search for answers online, or ask their parents for help. In extreme circumstances, the parents may enlist the help of a subject matter expert or tutor.

The same holds true for business. The most powerful statement in business is "I don't know."  This is not an opportunity to throw up your hands and give up. Rather, it is the first step in finding the solution. The answer might come from a colleague or supervisor, a well-crafted search online, or a subject matter expert. I am honored when some of the most brilliant business minds I know come to me for advice on dealing with a sticky sales or business development situation.

Next Steps
If you have lost touch with your network, reconnect. When you have an opportunity for personal or professional development, embrace the opportunity to learn and grow. When you encounter challenges, recognize where you need help and seek it.  Oh -- and if all else fails, getting a good night's sleep and eating a healthy breakfast never hurts.

It's Your Turn
What ideas do you get from back to school that can help your business?