This article is written with the specific intent of encouraging our readers, many of whom are business owners, to engage in lifelong learning about growing the value of their most important financial asset — their business.

As a young US Army officer, I was encouraged constantly by my superiors to study my craft, and not to rely solely on the Army’s formal education system. This repeated emphasis developed in me, and my fellow officers, a habit of lifelong learning.

Lifelong learning is the ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. Therefore, it not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development, but also self-sustainability, as well as competitiveness and employability.

During the last fifty years, constant scientific and technological innovation and change has had profound effects on how learning is understood. Learning can no longer be divided into a place and time to acquire knowledge (school) and a place and time to apply the knowledge acquired (the workplace).  Instead, learning can be seen as something that takes place on an ongoing basis from our daily interactions with others and with the world around us. It takes many forms including formal learning, informal learning, and self-directed learning.

When my career path changed from being an infantry officer to becoming a specialist on Northeast Asia, I dived deeply into learning everything I could about Japan, its history, and its people. This enabled me to become an effective attaché at the US embassy in Tokyo and later to help senior policy makers understand Japanese perspectives.

My first employer of my post-Army life was a large Information Technology integrator, so I taught myself about software, databases, and networks. Doing so enabled me to design and build a database to help my Defense Intelligence customer better manage its process for producing intelligence reports. That database was still in use six years after my assignment with that customer had ended. Lifelong learning, which also included such topics as management, business development, and entrepreneurship help me build the value of my personal brand and accelerated my advancement from individual contributor to business leader.

Continual self-education, with a spattering of formal classes here and there, enabled me to make better decisions as I held a series of leadership positions at small and midsize companies. Today, as a business owner, I’m finding lifelong learning to be even more essential to building the value of my businesses and ensuring my own financial future.

Many, probably most, business owners have been misinformed about what goes into determining the value of their businesses. According to Chris Snider, CEO of the Exit Planning Institute (EPI) and author of Walking to Destiny, “Most owners focus on sales and income only. This is understandable, but misguided…. Focusing on sales and income is important…. However, focusing exclusively on income is a mistake.” Financial factors account for less than a third of your company’s value. The main contributors to the value business are the intangible factors.

Snider also writes, “Much of what has been written about Exit Planning focuses on the endgame. I can’t emphasize enough that Exit Planning is not accomplished by focusing on the endgame.” Successful transitions — and every owner eventually transitions one way or another — are based on what you do every day. Unless you educate yourself about the intangible factors, what they are and how to improve them, your daily decisions and actions likely are endangering the future of your business, your financial well-being in retirement, and your legacy.

Because helping business owners educate themselves about what drives the value of their business is so important, Go Beyond LLC has entered into a partnership with the Exit Planning Institute (EPI) to bring critical learning experiences to business owners.

We have repurposed our Elim Group peer group consulting platform to bring exclusive content from EPI to business owners. These learning engagements are offered in two formats: monthly lunch-time meetings for 9 to 12 business owners over a period of five months; and intensive 1.5-day programs.

Owners whose businesses generate at least $5 million in annual revenue, or are within striking distance of that goal, will benefit most from these programs. If your business has between $5 million and $50 million in annual revenue, contact us for a free consultation to discuss whether these program are right for you.

ELIM 18-002, a 5-month series, will begin on June 27, 2018 at the Tower Club in Tysons, Virginia. Get more information and register here.

ELIM 18-003, an intensive 1.5-day program, will take place on Thursday and Friday, June 28 and June 29, 2018 at the Community Business Partnership in Springfield, Virginia.  Get more information and register here.

Business owners who have gone through programs with the identical content licensed under the EPI Owner Engage Program have provided the following feedback:

“I’m not much for seminars. Time is in short supply to begin with. But this was absolutely worth it.”

“A great learning opportunity from other private business owners with similar challenges!”

“The courses provide specific and actionable information that was directly applicable to the management of our business and understanding its value qualitatively and quantitatively.”

“Well worth the time.”

“This program allowed me to better understand how to grow the value of my organization and to provide a framework for ongoing value improvement.”

“This program was a great road map to guide business owners through the process of assessing, protecting and building business value.”

“An eye-opening experience!”