I think we can all agree that education is one of the keys to success, both in our personal lives and when it comes to business.

Take if from someone who was never an avid reader: whatever you are facing, there is a lot to be learned from others who have experience in the same area. One of my biggest regrets and mistakes in life is that I didn’t start reading books until age 40. Reading has changed my life so much that I implemented a book club at PFSbrands to encourage and incentivize everyone to continue to grow and learn. I even require our Senior Leadership Team to read a minimum of 12 books annually. In fact, I’ve seen dozens of people improve their lives as a result of reading due to our book club.

Many companies spend thousands of dollars to send their employees to trainings. This strategy is fine, however personal growth starts by training in the work place. In order for people to continuously develop, they have to be encouraged and allowed to “practice.” Developing a culture of continued education and continuous improvement is critical if you want to retain your staff and provide them with advancement opportunities.

For example, at PFSbrands, we established a Financial Literacy Committee, a group of eight people including a chair and a co-chair. The fact is, even simple concepts like debits and credits scare people. I personally hated Accounting in high school and college when it got into this debit and credit stuff. And entitlement cultures exist in large part because many people simply do not understand the basics of business, taxes, the income statement, the balance sheet, and the cash flow statement. Part of our work in developing our employees involves some financial educational sessions that makes everyone more aware of the challenges involved with achieving profitability. Furthermore, this education provides everyone an opportunity to see how they can impact the company’s profitability and enhance their opportunity for additional income.

The education really exploded within our company because we’re doing creative things to teach our teams about the financials, things like games and competitions. At the end of the day, not everybody needs to be an accountant, but the more your employees understand the basics of economics, the more they move toward ownership thinking.

Today we have several in-house continued education courses at PFSbrands, addressing topics such as goal setting, financial literacy, and our Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). And personally, the more open I’ve been to learn and understand those around me, the better father, husband, and overall human being I’ve become. Despite how many degrees hang on the walls in their offices, wise leaders are committed to never stop learning. To quote Henry Ford: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”

Whether it’s done in-house or at an industry conference, you owe it to yourself and your employees to engage in continued education. After all, a successful company’s growth is dependent on the capabilities of its employees. So, in order to reach your company’s potential, you MUST provide continued education and opportunities for your people to learn and grow.