The ads have been run, the banners placed (either at your brick-and mortar store or online), the emails have been sent and the tweets have been written, it’s now time to launch your business. All the months of preparation, anxiety, and expectations have coalesced around this pivotal point – creating an enterprise to sell something. Certainly your launch will be crowded with unforeseen challenges from employee issues, to attracting customers, identifying reliable suppliers, and whatever else emerges from the woodwork. However, over time you will create a rhythm and a “normal” business day.
As the dust settles, there is a part of your evolving routine that must include some time to focus on the “what’s new” part of your business. Why? Simply, it’s a competitive advantage. You can be sure your peers are looking for every possible bit of leverage to get more customers, and it might be at your expense.
So how do you keep thing fresh and new in your business?
- Join your industry association. These organizations will usually provide information on current or pending legal issues, nationwide lists of businesses like yours, a broad range of advertisers who specialize in addressing your company’s equipment and consulting needs, and provide insight on business trends.
- Subscribe to industry publications. Make sure you are subscribed to the trade publications in your industry that will not only talk about success stories in your business but also talk about technology and process trends that can help you make more money or get more sales.
- Read other business publications. Try to read as much current information as you can about big and small business. You never know how a challenge a blue chip company is facing could give you a brilliant idea. Try reading at least the blogs of The New York Times, Forbes, Fortune, Bloomberg Business Week, Inc., Black Enterprise, Entrepreneur, etc. to track the latest general business information (Please don’t forget to subscribe to this blog for business tips too.)
- Go check out a peer business! As well as you think your business is running, there are folks out there who are probably doing a better job than you are. You want to select a company that is in your business but far enough away geographically that they are not really competitors. Industry conventions and trade shows are great places to meet these high performing companies and the ideas that you can get from them from an onsite visit could pay big dividends for your enterprise.
- Listen to competitors via social media Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are perfect for spying on the competition without them even knowing it. Understanding how the sites work is extremely valuable. You can use the information to improve the customer buying experience and create customer loyalty programs. I would also suggest creating Google alerts on the three competitors too, so you can track other aspects of their business as well. Remember success leaves clues everywhere and information is the currency for success.
Do you have any other suggestions for keeping your business fresh?
Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is one of America’s leading small business experts. As a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach, she develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com Melinda is also bestseller author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works.