Successful business owners and career professionals consistently sustain a competitive edge by relying on research and analysis of the market to make decisions and to implement strategies that get results. As a business owner, I schedule time within my business week to conduct and analyze market research and see how it will affect my coaching services. Most important, I encourage and guide my clients to use those skills in growing their businesses or in finding a new job.
When I talk to people who own businesses, want to start a business, or are seeking a new job, I find that they have researched and analyzed their competition in the business or job markets. As a professional business and career coach, I recommend that they:
- Use the Internet as an information source
- Read business periodicals and newspapers
- Network strategically
The reasons behind using these three resources are different and distinct; they also have important similarities. Understanding the use of these resources to analyze the marketplace, to showcase your unique strengths, and to overcome the competition can be major assets to your success.
Search and Use the Internet
Online technology is a quick way to search for trends, news, and data. As a business owner, you can “scope out” your competition and see if there are other companies, products, and services that you and your business need to consider adding. If your products and services compliment those of another business, think about building an alliance or joint venture with them.
The Internet provides job seekers and career changers access to job postings, tools, and resources that can enhance their job search techniques and strategies. Among the resources available are online career support organizations and listings of professionals who can help job seekers personally, e.g., career coaches, resume advisers, recruiters, training programs and videos, and more.
Most importantly, both business owners and job seekers can get current, critical data that can help them craft an effective approach to get their foot in the front door.
Read Business Periodicals and Newspapers
Today, I renewed my most valuable resource—the business journal in my city. The site www.bizjournal.com offers 40 or so business newspapers that are published weekly in print and online. I use my city’s business journal to help me read about trends in my cities’ market: which businesses are succeeding, which businesses have encountered hard times, and profiles of the “movers and shakers” in the local business community. I review the upcoming events offered by various professional and local groups, registering for those that may be of advantage to me. Finally, each issue has articles offering advice on how to grow a business or how to conduct an effective job search.
About six months a go I began reading the Wall Street Journal. I start by reviewing the “agenda” on the left side of the front page. It gives me an overview of the story along with the section and page location of the story, so I can quickly turn to those that interest me. Sometimes, I can see a trend or forecast that has helped either my business or those of my clients. Your area also may have a great local newspaper. Look in the business section for information.
As for magazines, I am careful about buying and reading them for a couple of reasons. First, there are so many to choose from. Second, magazine articles may take as much as three months to appear in print, making the information stale by the time you read it. But some issues of magazine offer educational CDs while others offer special reports. Look at magazines that can help your business or your job search.
Networking with individuals, groups and organizations is extremely important to promoting you, your business, and your career experience if you are seeking a job. The only issue is how to go about it.
I networked by: (1) joining professional organizations the purpose of which is to network with other business professionals and give out referrals; (2) joining professional associations with a large membership, educational and developmental resources, and different network groups, and (3) co-starting different personal network and development groups in both career change and/or business development. Sometimes this has been necessary because I could not find a group that addressed my needs or the needs of others with similar goals.
Recently a group of small private business owners got together, and we started our own business development group. At our monthly meetings we briefly introduce ourselves and deliver a short commercial about our business. But most of our time is spent discussing a business topic that will help us grow our businesses and help each other. Try it yourself!
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