Efficiency is the key to maximizing small business profitability, productivity, and potential. But in devoting so much attention to processes and people, however, small business owners often neglect to optimize their most important asset—themselves.
Whether you’re a novice or veteran entrepreneur, every day also offers the opportunity to learn something that can be applied to improving the quality of your business— perhaps right away, or maybe sometime in the future. It’s simply a matter of being aware of what’s going on outside the walls of your store, factory, or home office.
There are multiple ways to learn. One approach is the use of search engine technology which has made staying abreast of business-related news easy, thanks to systems such as Google Alerts. Simply enter some basic search terms for topics of interest—your industry, locations where you do or want to do business, competitors’ names or technologies and you’ll be notified when relevant content appears on the web.
Alerts can be set to be issued as they happen, or on a daily or weekly basis. In addition, customizable news aggregation websites such as alltop.com bring news headlines, blogs, and podcasts together in a single location.
But don’t omit “traditional” news sources such as trade journals, national news publications, or your local paper for learning. While it’s great to get web news tailored to your needs, you may spot something in a story on a seemingly unrelated topic that could benefit your business or, perhaps more importantly, influence your customers and their needs.
And just because you’ve finished school doesn’t mean your career as a student is over. There are always new skills to learn, new technologies to master, and new ways to do things. Daytona State College regularly offers classes and workshops on timely business topics, both on campus and online. In addition, the Flagler Chamber of Commerce, and other groups have meetings with speakers and presentations, giving you a chance to double your time investment by both learning and networking. A great example is the Business Excellence Boot Camp Plus offered by the Chamber. It is a five week intensive and interactive program designed to immerse small business owners in the fundamentals of business management. The Boot Camp is staffed by SCORE counselors and will take place at the Chamber from October 15th through November 12th.
Another possibility is attending multi-day conferences sponsored by industry group— either yours or those representing your customers. Although registration fees, travel and lodging expenses may be involved, the long-term payoff in visibility, education, and networking will likely more than justify the costs.
Finally, the best way to maximize your personal efficiency is to take care of your health. Take some breaks during the day, and set business aside completely when you leave work—especially if you spend most of your time in a home office. Exercise regularly, eat right, and don’t put off regular medical exams or vacations. After all, if the boss isn’t operating at 100 percent, chances are his or her small business won’t either.
For more information on learning resources, one on one free and confidential counseling and workshops, please contact Rosalie Kalman at 386-255-6889