Chances are you feel way too busy as the owner of a small business to stay up to date with the latest news and trends in your field. There are always customer service, budget, marketing or sales tasks that require your attention, and that’s completely understandable. But for the sake of your business staying on the cutting edge, it’s important that you at least take a small amount of time every day to keep up to date with some of the latest news and trends relating to your business.
Here are some activities that will help you to stay on top of business trends:
- Attend Webinars and Live Events. Follow the thought leaders in your industry and even those you view as competition by attending live events, trade shows and webinars. Observing how others present themselves and looking at what they view as trending can be insightful to your own status. This does not mean you are going to play follow-the-leader, but it does give you an opportunity to evaluate your offerings, presentation skills and effectiveness from closer than 30,000 feet.
- Read online business journals and magazines. There are some great publications out there that can have some wonderful advice you can apply to your business. You don’t even necessarily have to subscribe to the physical versions of these publications; many have online editions with plenty of helpful articles. Look into Inc, Bloomberg Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, Small Business Trends and more.
- Stay plugged into social media. There are plenty of ways you can use social media to keep up to date about industry trends. Business-related groups on Facebook and LinkedIn are particularly useful for this. You can also create Twitter lists filled with people who have a lot of influence in your industry to see what they’re talking about. But don’t just sit back and observe – be engaged and ask questions that promote engagement.
- Join associations related to your business. These groups often have a lot of great networking opportunities that will help you to get to know other important people in your industry and see how they are finding creative ways to overcome many of the same challenges you face on a regular basis. Get out from behind your desk and meet those minds like yours – even on their turf!
- Find opportunities for free training. Organizations like the Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Centers and SCORE have free online training, blogs, webinars and plenty of other resources that will help you to stay up to date with your business practices.
- Keep an eye on recent studies. The Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis and more often report a lot of useful industry stats and data. These studies should help you learn more about trends in your area.
All it takes is committing a few minutes every day to staying on top of the latest news in your industry, and it will make a huge difference in terms of staying ahead of the curve with your business!