Regardless of what stage you are at or role you play in business, it is up to you to educate yourself on the developments in your industry. Whether technology-related, topical trends, operational efficiency, or any other aspect of business, you first have to learn about it and then implement it as a successful business strategy. But how can you make the jump from learning the knowledge to building and implementing a business strategy that works?
Here are three phases to help you work through the process of gaining knowledge to implementing a successful strategy.
Phase 1: Gaining knowledge
Learning is the key that opens the door to the process. With a base knowledge of tools, processes, and trends in your industry, you can start to build the foundation of a great business strategy. Three great ways to gain knowledge are:
- Industry resources: Check out local and national industry associations to see what type of content they have. You will find things like reports, research studies, and even association blogs to be a great resource for industry-specific knowledge on trends and new developments.
- Search engines: Using search engines like Google opens you up to general discussion on topics such as marketing best practices, financial tracking and reporting, HR-related issues, and much more. While it might not be industry-specific, many concepts can be applied across industries.
- Find a mentor: Learning directly from those who have already been through many of the issues you are trying to overcome is invaluable. A great mentorship will benefit both you and the mentor, but in this case, you have the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge that you can apply directly to your situation.
Phase 2: Interpreting knowledge
Before you can start to apply the new knowledge you have learned, you first need to translate it into useful and applicable concepts for your business. For example, you might have learned a lot about social media, but you should also figure out what others are doing in your industry and any issues they have come up against.
Two ways to help you create applicable concepts for your business are:
- Identify common threads: Unless you are looking to implement some ground-breaking tactics, other businesses have likely already done what you are looking to accomplish. This means that you can, similar to a mentor, learn from what others have done before. In this case, you can look for trends in the types of questions that are asked on forums and how-to topics that are covered a lot. Identifying potential issues with implementation will help you build a more successful strategy.
- Take a course or webinar: While you could identify this as a way to gain knowledge, used in the right way, you can take a step beyond the knowledge in the course by asking specific questions based on your needs. There are countless webinars, courses, and workshops on any number of topics that can help you. While a lot of them focus on the base knowledge behind a concept, the writer or teacher can’t know what your exact situation is to walk you through implementation in your business. If you already have the base knowledge from phase 1, you are not flying blind and can ask educated questions specific to your needs. The instructor/facilitator will help you to interpret the knowledge you already have to create an applicable concept for your business situation.
Phase 3: Building a business strategy
Once you have the base knowledge and the applicable concepts that are relevant to your business, you are ready to build out your business strategy and implement it on a day-to-day basis. Here are three things that will help you to do that successfully.
- Identify your business goals: You might have a great idea, but if it doesn’t help you work towards your business goals, then there is no point in doing it. Before building your strategy, write down 2 or 3 business goals you have. Each of the tactics you build into your strategy should help you achieve those goals. Examples of goals are:
- Are you looking to build your email list?
- Do you want to push the sale of a specific product?
- Do you want to build your online community?
- Do you want to increase service inquiries?
- Identify your limitations: Knowing where you might fall short will help you to either find people to fill the gaps, or build a strategy working within your strengths. It’s also an opportunity for you to potentially do some professional development to eliminate limitations.
- Hire a consultant: If all else fails, or if you are just overwhelmed, working with a third party to help you build a strategy that makes sense for your business can set you on the right track. It also means you have a fresh set of eyes to build your business with you. They might come at the process from a different perspective than you would, which creates more opportunities.
Knowledge is a powerful tool, but unless you can successfully implement what you have learned into your business, you won’t be able to use it. A tool is at its most powerful when in use.
A version of this article was originally posted to the SongBird Marketing Communications Blog.