School is back in session this time of year – but it’s not just kids who could use a lesson. Being successful in small business takes continued learning. It’s important to keep up with industry trends, regulation changes and new tools to leverage for your business.
In fact, taking time to learn may be one of the best ways that small businesses can gain an edge over their big-box competition. Big-box companies and national chains don’t often adapt quickly. They typically learn their industry from the top down, with new processes and new tools making their way through the ranks slowly. For a national chain, adding a new technology to the in-store experience or offering customers the most up-to-date information can be hindered by bureaucratic processes and decentralized locations.
Small businesses, on the other hand, can adapt much more quickly. If you learn about a new product or industry standard, you can take the time to research, then begin serving your customers accordingly with no delay. To gain the edge, though, you have to make time for regular learning. The information that matters to your business will, of course, vary by industry, but the resources below are a good start for small business owners in any industry.
Building Local Power Podcast
Building Local Power comes from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR). Every two weeks, ILSR researchers and experts shed light on a particular issue or industry affecting communities across the country. They share stories of small business success and news relevant to the buy local movement. Recent episodes have covered Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods and the story of a local hardware retailer in Washington, D.C. Find episodes on iTunes or on ILSR’s website.
A one-stop-shop for small business owners, SmallBizDaily promises to deliver “ideas, insights, information and information for entrepreneurs.” The site covers everything from tax tips and financial advice to digital marketing hacks and technology trends. To stay updated, small business owners can visit SmallBizDaily online or on social media and sign up for the TrendCast newsletter.
National Retail Federation
The National Retail Federation (NRF) is a must-use resource for local retailers, but much of its information will relate to small businesses of any kind. NRF tracks consumer trends, the country’s economic well-being and tips for business owners. Specific to retailers, NRF helps businesses plan for the holiday shopping season and keep tabs on the big-box competition. To start reading, visit NRF online.
HBR IdeaCast refers to Harvard Business Review’s weekly podcast for business owners. In 20- to 30-minute episodes, the show delivers timely perspectives on management, covering topics such as leadership, teambuilding, planning, technology and more. The information comes in the form of engaging interviews with business leaders from a variety of industries. Subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud and other audio platforms.
Small Business Trends
Covering topics such as marketing, management, technology and finance, Small Business Trends is a leading source of news and advice for small businesses. Beyond the read-worthy content, Small Business Trends also maintains a valuable Resource Center, which is packed with checklists, e-books and templates that small business owners may find handy. These resources give small business owners a good place to start for common tasks like updating your website, applying for a small business loan and incorporating your business.
Independent We Stand
Of course, if you’re reading this on the Independent We Stand (IWS) blog, then you’re already off to a good start. IWS offers regular tips and stories from around the small business community, as well as downloadable resources for businesses to use online and offline. Subscribe to the IWS blog to get the latest content delivered right to your inbox.