Successful people find ways to stay ahead of the curve. As a small business owner, you need to keep yourself informed to identify and then take advantage of new opportunities. Check out these easy things you can build into your schedule to stay relevant.
1. Update your news feed
It’s crucial to be on social media — every day. Make sure you customize your business’s feeds on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram so that you can easily scan the relevant and trending topics that day. If you don’t have time to click through and read an article that sounds interesting, use a “save for later” app like Pocket so you can revisit it when you have more time.
2. Leverage your team
Your team (if they’re good) should have their eyes and ears to the ground, too. Start a companywide email alias where team members can share interesting findings or articles. A Slack channel for sharing this sort of information is also helpful.
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3. Use SEO
If a lot of people are searching for something in Google, it’s likely popular. Try using a relatively inexpensive SEO tool like Moz to enter keywords in your industry to identify emerging patterns in people’s searching behavior. One strategy is to go after terms that are niche. Certain topics may not have a ton of search volume, but if they’re picking up steam, it’s likely they will soon. Identifying these gems is a great way to find places where your business could fill a market gap.
4. Subscribe to trade journals
This may sound antiquated, but trade journals are still one of the best ways to stay in the know about specific issues in your industry. Do some research to figure out which ones you should subscribe to and get on their lists. Then read those journals in print or online. Block out a regular time in your weekly calendar to go through these publications.
5. Subscribe to magazines
The same can be said for consumer magazines, whether they’re industry specific or just for fun. Often, you’ll find something that’s either relevant to your line of work or that might spark an idea or insight.
6. Remember to network
Conferences, local networking events, trainings, and Facebook groups are dedicated to getting you in front of both colleagues and experts. Whether it’s a monthly salon-owners happy hour or big trade shows like CES (if you’re in the tech sector), the face time you get from networking is always beneficial to your business.
7. Engage with your customers
Soliciting feedback in the form of surveys or simply replying to customers’ posts on your social channels are good ways to see your industry from your audience’s perspective. Don’t ever underestimate the power of customer insight.
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8. Keep an eye on your competitors
Think you spotted a trend but aren’t sure if it’s anything that will catch on? By observing what your competitors are doing, you can capitalize on emerging news, trends, and opportunities. Sure, staying ahead of the competition is key, but knowing what they’re up to is one part of coming out on top.
Photo credit: “Scenes from #FinCon14”, Philip Taylor, Flickr, CC by SA 2.0, cropped from original.