Recent statistics report that there are 543,000 small businesses started each month. That’s right, every month.

And at the helm of each new business are entrepreneurs on a mission. After all of the preparation, research, and planning, they dive in with nothing but capital (if they’re lucky) and the mental images of what they envision their companies to become.

These images though, often change—and fast. Mostly because you don’t know what you don’t know. And sometimes, even with the best advice and mentorship at your disposal, it’s mistakes and failure that end up being the best teachers.

With that said, persistence paired with a passion for continued learning is a combo of characteristics worth embracing and investing in as an entrepreneur. Here’s why.

Helps You Stay Relevant

The impacts of technology felt on small businesses are real. Digital reigns supreme, automation is key, and artificial intelligence is both sought after and feared by the workers it’s marketed to replace. This is today though, and what’s top-of-mind can change seemingly overnight.

Changes in technology also trickle downward to affect things like consumer buying behaviors and workplace expectations among younger generations. Making time for continued learning by following leading online publications and thought leaders helps your business stay relevant among both its customers and employees.

Opens the Door to Networking

An added bonus of continued learning is the opportunity to network. Think of it as a two for one kind of deal.

The more you put yourself out there—whether in-person at conferences or virtually through LinkedIn or Slack community groups—the more opportunity you have to build relationships. Some of the people you meet may turn into mentors, mentees, customers, employees, or service providers. Whatever the case may be, you create space for engaging others in meaningful ways when you make a continued effort to ask questions and learn from them.

Encourages You to Think Differently

If you operate by nothing but your own mantras, your business potential will be limited. It’s the same as living in a “Facebook bubble” where the content you see and people followed are only those echoing your pre-established beliefs.

You can’t grow personally or professionally without challenging your status quo every now and then. This is why you’ll often see professionals that are terrified of public speaking seek out improv comedy groups. Being constantly curious opens the door to situations that may make you uncomfortable but certainly more capable in the long run.  

Makes You a Better Leader

As your business grows, it’s inevitable that you’ll become more and more disconnected from everyday operations. When you’re so far removed in this way, it can become difficult for you as a leader to relate to your employees—to guide them constructively when unaware of a job’s complexities.

Continued learning is not always about being an expert in every single area of your business. Simply maintaining foundational knowledge across every department will make you a better leader on both a holistic and individual level.

[More Often Than Not] It’s Free

When goals aren’t met, it’s easy to blame a lack of time and/or money. But when it comes to continued learning, there’s really no excuse.

For starters, there are plenty of free online learning sites for entrepreneurs that cover everything from coding to SEO. The biggest mental roadblock you’ll have to overcome is time, which really comes down to proper management. Shift your mindset, embrace short bursts of learning, and remove unnecessary distractions. In doing so you’ll find that when you’re willing to prioritize, the time can always be found.