Enhance your own efficiency through ongoing education

Efficiency is the key to maximizing small business profitability, productivity and potential.  However, in devoting so much attention to processes and people, small-business owners often neglect to optimize their most important asset — themselves.

Whether you are a novice or veteran entrepreneur, every day offers the opportunity to learn something that can be directly applied to improving the quality of your business — perhaps right away, or sometime in the near future. It’s simply a matter of being aware of what’s going on outside the walls of your store, factory or home office.

Search engine technology has made staying abreast of business-related news easy, thanks to systems such as Google Alerts, which “are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries.” Simply enter some basic search terms for topics of interest — your industry, locations where you do or want to do business, competitors’ names, technologies, etc. — and you’ll be notified when relevant content appears on the web. Alerts can be set to be issued as they happen or on a daily or weekly basis.

In addition, RSS feeds and customizable news-aggregation websites bring news headlines, blogs and podcasts together in a single location.

But don’t omit “traditional” news sources such as trade journals, national news publications, local business magazines and the local newspaper. While it’s great to get web news tailored to your needs, you may spot something in a story on a seemingly unrelated topic that could benefit your business or, perhaps more importantly, influence your customers and their needs.

And just because you’ve finished school doesn’t mean your career as a student is over. There are always new skills to learn, new technologies to master and new ways to do things. Local colleges and universities regularly offer classes and seminars on timely business topics, both on campus and online. Local chapters of professional associations, the Chamber of Commerce and other groups also have meetings with speakers and presentations, giving you a chance to double your time investment by both learning and networking.

You may also want to consider attending multi-day conferences sponsored by an industry group — either yours or those representing your customers. Though registration fees, travel and lodging may be involved, the long-term payoff in visibility, education and networking will likely more than justify the expense.

Finally, one of the best ways to maximize your personal efficiency is to take care of your health. Take some breaks during the day, and set business aside completely when you leave work — especially if you spend most of your time in a home office. Exercise regularly, eat right and don’t put off regular medical exams or vacations. After all, if the boss isn’t operating at 100 percent, chances are his or her small business won’t either.

At SCORE, we want to be the foundation of the small business owner’s ongoing education. You can get expert, objective advice and ideas from certified, experienced mentors, in person, or online — and all for no charge.

Certain business seminars and workshops are offered for a nominal fee, along with other FREE workshops.

To get more information on how SCORE can help your business contact the local SCORE office in Gainesville at 352-375-8278, and online at http://northcentralflorida.score.org. Or, call/email Doug Crotty, Certified Mentor and Media Contact for SCORE at 352-213-2555 or doug.crotty@scorevolunteer.org


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