Monday, September 12, 2011

Business Thought Process: The 4Q1E Way (Part 3)

Technologies and methodologies evolve and change, but solid foundations and principles tend to remain constant in business.

So with that in mind over the next few weeks, I'm gonna ask you 4 Questions. And give you 1 Exclamation that will hopefully get you thinking about the foundations and principles needed to create a business, solidify your current business, or enhance the speed of your growing business.

Question 1: Where are you now?
Question 2: What is next?
Question 3: What are your assets and resources?

Once you know "where you are" and "where you are going" you have to know what you have that you can use to get you there.

Assets and resources come in many shapes and sizes.

People... (such as a mentor, a family member, a close friend, and sometimes even co-workers or employees) can become an asset to your endeavor.

But when it comes to people, yes they can be a resource, but don't "exploit" them. Make sure you let them know you appreciate their contribution and if possible reward them or show your gratitude to them in a special way.

Money... is probably one of the first resources that most people think of, but it is not the first requirement to getting your efforts underway. If you are just starting out there are a number of services that you can access for little or no money and upgrade as you grow. If you are already established, use some of that "street cred" you've built up to negotiate for a good deal. I also know several business owners in my area that are part of a barter network.

Knowledge... is power. Everyone knows that right? WRONG! Applied knowledge is power. It doesn't matter how much you know unless you are doing something with it. Merely having a collection of trivia and information floating around your brain doesn't do you any good. Besides that's what encyclopedias are for (ooo... wow... guess I'm showing my age there)... um... besides that's what Wikipedia is there for (there that's more up to date).

Statistical data... can be very beneficial to you as you move from one area to another in business. But do yourself a favor and take it for what it is, review it, incorporate if you can, discard it if you can't and move on with your plan. Don't get stuck in what some have called "the paralysis of analysis."

Websites... can be fantastic tools (but they can also be fantastic ways to spend a lot of time with no results). Use them, learn from them, just don't plagiarize them. But if you are in business, you need to know what is going on with your industry. You also need to know what your competition is doing - and not just in your local area, but also in other parts of the country.  

Why? you may ask. Well first off, let's face it you and your local competition probably don't know everything. Secondly, it's not uncommon for an out-of-area company to come in and grab up a project you wanted simply because they had to foresight to keep tabs on what was going on in other areas (why shouldn't that out-of-area company be YOU going into THEIR area). And lastly, maybe their website designer is using a technique that would make your website and your company more appealing to your potential customers.

Blogs... offer extremely valuable insight into various fields and industries. And companies use blogs not only to present information as a form of quasi-marketing, but ask almost any SEO guru and he will tell you that blogs are usually great ways to drive traffic to the company or blogger that is publishing the content. Of course in producing such content, many times they are providing you with knowledge that you can use to grow your business. (They probably won't be giving away any inside information or trade secrets, but take what you can get).

Seminars and webinars... provide you with an opportunity to learn from an expert in the field who is willing to share some of their knowledge with you. These events can range in price from just a few dollars to several thousand dollars and can last anywhere from an hour to 2 or 3 days in some cases.

As with any sort of outlay of money, make sure you know exactly what you are getting and determine if the reward is equal to or greater than the investment you made because in most cases there is not any sort of refund or satisfaction guarantee associated with events of this nature. And remember cost does not always equate to quality. I've personally been to paid events that lasted all day that did not benefit me as much as a free one-hour "lunch and learn" session.

What other assets or resources can you think of that you may have at your disposal?

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