3 TED Talks Every Small Business Owner Should Watch

Although it can be hard to find time to read, watch or even listen to business content when you’re running a small business, making time for self-improvement is key.

Perhaps one of the best and easiest ways to boost your business knowledge is by watching TED Talks. The nonprofit organization TED (short for Technology, Entertainment and Design) began in 1984 as a conference dedicated to “ideas worth spreading”. In 2006, TED began posting some of its most popular speeches online. Three decades later, thousands of people have given 18-minute or shorter talks in more than 100 languages.  They have covered topics ranging from business and ethics to music and art, and pretty much any other topic you can imagine.

The three talks below offer advice for business owners. Once you’ve watched these three videos (it will take less than 45 minutes total, so you can watch them as soon as you finish reading this post), search TED’s database (currently more than 2,400 videos strong) for more favorites to help you grow as a business owner. Try to fit at least two talks per week into your schedule. Get creative: listen to audio during your commute, watch on your phone while you’re at the gym, or even sneak in a few minutes while you’re sitting in a waiting room. You’ll find the payoff is more than worth it!

1. “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek’s TED Talks has been viewed more than 31 million times. It’s the number two most-viewed TED Talks ever. In it, Sinek answers the question, “Why do people do what they do,” with actionable advice leaders can put into practice today to help inspire action in employees, customers, and other key audiences. “Whether they’re individuals or organizations,” he says, “We follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to.”


2. “Two Reasons Companies Fail — And How to Avoid Them” by Knut Haanaes

In this popular TED Talks Knut Haanaes asks: “Is it possible to run a company and reinvent it at the same time?”.  In just over 10 minutes, he shares tips about innovation, success, and how to find balance between the two. Whether you’re new to running a small business or are a fourth-generation entrepreneur helming the family enterprise, Haanaes’ gives guideposts for every business looking for ways to propel your company into the future while managing day-to-day operations.


3. “Five Ways to Kill Your Dream” by Bel Pesce

Brazilian entrepreneur Bel Pesce’s talk may reinvigorate small-business owners chasing their biggest dreams. Pesce suggests that the dreams owners consider audacious are the ones which deserve to be chased. Her funny and inspiring talk clocks in at under 10 minutes.  But it is full of helpful tips on focusing your goals, when to accept advice and when to trust yourself.


BONUS: Share This TED Talk With Your Employees

TED Talks aren’t just great for business owners; hundreds (if not thousands) of talks offer great tips for employees too. Encourage your employees to expand their own horizons with TED resources. A great talk to get them started is Nigel Marsh’s talk entitled, “How to Make Work-Life Balance Work”.  At just over 10 minutes (short enough to watch during a break) the presentation resonates with viewers. In fact, it has garnered more than 3.6 million total views.

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