Small business advice is big business, with an entire industry telling you how to run a better business, start your business, grow your business and every conceivable topic in between. You can choose from a smorgasbord of seminars, webinars, blogs, tips, magazines, podcasts, expos, books, TV shows and radio shows. If you actually took every piece of advice (and it worked) you would be working 4 hours per week, instantly rich, a social media whiz and inspiring leader - all whilst blissfully happy.
We all know this is not the small business reality, so something in this system seems not to be working. Maybe that’s because many advisors/writers/experts/gurus are equally interested in selling themselves as they are in your business. Equally, small business owners often struggle with implementation, snowed under by daily operations, time restraints and just not having the necessary abilities.
We are swimming in a sea of information, sometimes floating, sometimes drowning. For a busy business owners, how much can you really absorb? How much can you put into action? It’s easy to become overwhelmed, not know where to start and end up doing nothing! Many times my clients have returned from seminars all fired up, only for it to fall off the agenda a week later ...once the phone starts ringing ..and a staff member quits .. and a client is unhappy ..and a supplier doesn’t deliver.
Learning is a vital part of being a business owner, so regular education is a must, but it can easily become a waste of time and money if you don’t have a strategy. Fishing for the most useful information at the right time is a skill, so here are some ideas to make your education time count.
Just one thing. When you do attend a seminar or read a great article, be realistic - implement just one idea and see it through right to completion.
Be choosy. It’s a buyers market, so pick sources that are relevant to your current needs.
Work with your preferences. Do you like podcasts? books? seminars? networking? It’s like exercise - if you choose the one you like, you are more likely to do it.
Ideas vs. instructions. Some sources give ‘big picture’ information, some ‘how to.’ Pick the one you need right now. There’s no point feeling inspired but not implementing because you don’t know where to start. Technology is a common example.
Cool your jets. You may feel inspired by a presenter to start a big new initiative that maybe isn’t the highest business priority right now. Align with your current business plan.
Find your guru. There are lots of them out there; take your time to find presenters and writers that suit your style.
Build a library. If you find information that is possibly relevant but not currently needed, keep it filed for later, when that issue is priority.
Keep it real. Focus on information that gives you practical take-aways, rather than complex theories.
Know where you’re at. Your needs and knowledge change as you evolve as a business owner; as you outgrow one, be ready to find the next.
Fit your budget. There are lots of cheap and free resources if you are on a tight budget.
Take a buddy. Having a business colleague or team member participate makes the retention and implementation of ideas much more likely (and it’s more fun).
It’s about you. Beware of advisors that clearly care more about themselves and their ego than you.
The best business owners live by education; tapping into pertinent, relevant and insightful information is a building block to a successful business. Rather than fishing with a dragnet, you will get much better results by planning ahead, knowing what you need, being realistic and putting your new knowledge into action.
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