Entry By Jason Brick
The mailbox of a small business owner is packed daily with notifications, news, advertising, junk mail, industry reports and trade publications -- and that's just the physical mail. Internet resources and vital industry data are another fast-flowing river of information. Add that to the business practice, performance metrics and skills training you need to steer the company and it adds up to a rushing torrent of information so intense that many business owners choose to ignore it completely.
The result is focusing entirely on your business as-is, which means missing out on the knowledge that may help you grow it into the business you want. When attempting to drink from the fire hose of industry information, try using these five techniques to get the most useful data in the most efficient ways possible.
- Ignore (Most) Print
It's generally safe to throw out anything in your mailbox that you didn't ask for directly. Even the print trade publications operate on a publication schedule, it puts them behind the curve. Process your mail next to the recycling bin, and don't give the junk mail a second thought.
- Subscribe to Podcasts
Podcasts are a great source of in-depth, current industry news and self-help techniques. Better yet, you can listen to them while commuting, running errands or working out. This means getting solid information without taking out extra time for reading or research.
- Use a Blog Aggregator
Your industry most likely has a blogger who's always one step ahead of your competition and the major news sites. Every industry does, and most have several. Use a blog aggregating program to get that blog delivered to you with every update, along with the other blogs you read for self-improvement, local news and general education. Make this your morning newspaper.
- Attend Conferences
Find the budget and take the time to attend industry conferences. They're like a crash course in what's going on in your industry right now, letting you attend talks, workshops and presentations about the most exciting changes and opportunities. They tend to be exciting, too -- which can leave you energized and excited about your success.
- Observe Basic Time Management
To do your research and education, you need to have time to do it right. This means observing the best practices in time management and personal effectiveness. Some of the best advice includes scheduling your time, being willing to close the office door, and doing the hardest tasks first.