Sunday, September 20, 2009

Read, Absorb, Repeat

Entrepreneurship is a game of perpetual learning. In order to constantly stay ahead of the curve it’s important to know what’s going on in your industry. I am a firm believer in the philosophy For also knowledge itself is power. The more you know the better your ability to lead others; power is not dominance but rather the ability to aid in a decision. Entrepreneurs are often perceived as risk takers but the best entrepreneurs minimize their risks as much as possible by developing a greater understanding of the upcoming problem. Founders of great companies slowly built up a knowledge base unparallel to those around them; Bill Gates did not wake up the CEO of Microsoft he slowly learned everything he could for a over a decade before even starting Microsoft.

As a new entrepreneur I find it very useful to read articles on everything from managing cash flow to small business marketing. Business books usually bring up new models and may cause you to rethink an area of your business leading to an improvement. The first small business book I read was “The Art of the Start” which really helped change my mindset from student to entrepreneur, if you don’t read the “been there done that” stories you’ll learn the hard way. How much of this information is used in my day to day activities? Usually very little, but it’s important to build a knowledge base now so when we get into those situations later on it will make the transition much easier. Also sometimes you can draw on information from one subject while dealing with another. Reading about small business is also very inspiring; people carve out niches you never thought were possible and other successes keep the dream alive.

My advice for someone thinking about starting their own company:

1) Subscribe to Inc. / Fast Company/ or whatever magazine publication is in your field.

2) Buy a recent industry business book, you’ll often find the best research and most fluid information on the subject.

3) Subscribe to Blogs/Websites for regular updates. These will be your ‘newspaper,’ staying up to date on what is happening in your industry.

4) Internet: Search for your domain name, potential twitter account, and ‘Facebook fan’ account. You never know if these features might come in handy down the road. Also twitter is moderately useful at finding interesting articles once you find the right people to follow. The large downside is that it can be a waste of time.

5) Other: Read outside your field. You might find a solution to your problem by taking a trick from another business or animal or sport, you never know so read whatever you find interesting.

6) Absorb: I personally find working out once a day is pure ‘free thinking’ time. It’s a time when I’m not pressuring myself to come up with a solution and it lets the day’s material absorb easily.

My lastly read about entrepreneurship because it’s COOL. Entrepreneurs are always doing things that have never been done before, and they usually have very interesting stories that lead them to where they are today. Entrepreneurship is a rubix cube where you need to align many variables, and successful businessmen don’t just pick up the cube. They usually take a look first and maybe ask a friend how it works; if you don’t already have mentors or advisors books and articles provide a great resource to start off on the right path. Below I have included a few links and some recent reads, feel free to comment on your favourite book/blog. Also my blog roll has links to a few sites that vary between green business, online media, travel and business.

Solid informational links:

TechVibes (For Local Tech Business updates)

AllTop (For updates about just about everything)

4 Hour Work Week Blog (Usually provides very interesting advice across many different subjects)

Quick Sprout (Interesting all round entrepreneur blog)

Cool Books I recommend:

The Art of the Start (Great first read for future/new entrepreneurs, Guy Kawasaki’s name is very well known and is an entrepreneurship guru)

4 Hour work week (Demonstrates how the business world is changing, and those who adapt fastest will benefit)

Free (Focused on how using a price of free can develop a profitable business)

The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid (New business models in third world nations, forces you to think outside the box)

Blogging (About the success of the Huffington Post and how to build a successful blog)

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