Posted by: peterhact | April 3, 2011

Advice sites, newsletters and information galore

How many of the sites that are available these days are of benefit to the average business? How many newsletters should you subscribe to, getting a daily email that advises you to manage tax, hire / fire staff, buy equipment, buy technology, run marketing campaigns, run targeted campaigns?

It seems that every where you turn, there is a new way to run a business. There are experts in every field, people who you have never met, yet offer sage advice for you to run your business. Anyone who listens only to these online sources puts them at risk of generic information, not specific, and this is potentially damaging.

I am in IT. I can provide online advice, information and my personal experiences. It is relevant to the people who I communicate across the global community as an opinion, but it isn’t sage advice. I have the experience to teach you about technology, the internet, social media, ways to run your IT in your business effectively and efficiently. I have this ability, but I find that it is best applied as a connection on a personal level – I have greater skills in teaching you if we are in the same city and I am working with you.

I have no degrees, but I have far more important skills, life skills. I have seen the internet come in to shape and change our lives, both personal and professional, and I know that there are ways that it has opened our eyes to the greater community that has evolved into the social media space, the twitterverse, the blogsphere, indeed, we are now closer than we ever were before, to every connected human in the world.

Social media won’t make you rich, it won’t be a magic bullet that makes your business popular, it will, however, allow you to interact with other businesses, suppliers and end users effectively, as if you were in their study, office or sitting with them on a park bench on a warm autumn day. The technology is enabling us to think down newer pathways, about ideas that possibly existed before the internet and the more powerful computers of today, yet were beyond our grasp as the technology limited us.

So what can we do with the newsletters, the advice sites, the raw information that, as a massive wave bearing over us, threatens to bury us and confuse us as to what is the correct way to run a business, what is wrong and who we should listen to?

Some people analyse the information. some, in a crazy attempt to stay on top of the latest and greatest, take it all in, only to find that they have no power to implement what they have learned, and thus learn nothing. There has to be a happy medium between information and implementing it.

Many years ago, when i was working in retail, I was approached by a guy who wanted to buy the latest computer. He had researched for months, noted every new advancement, and, when he came into the store, was ready to buy. “What do you want to use it for” I asked, only to have the reply “dunno, internet, word processing, email.” The computer he had researched was so far above his needs, it was laughable. He asked me if it was the latest. I had to be truthful, the model he had selected, although about 10 times greater than his requirement would ever be, was now, today, obsolete, superseded by a new version.

He informed me that he would come back when the latest was out. I told him that at that rate, he would never buy a computer. Didn’t go down well, until I explained my statement. The thing is, buying above your needs means that as technology changes, you can’t replace the equipment easily. look for today and tomorrow, but keep in mind that if the computer you buy today doesn’t meet your needs in three or four years, it is easier to replace a system that was a minimal investment, than it is to replace something that cost you the earth. This is where I couldn’t sell him a computer if he wanted the latest, there simply wouldn’t be a time where we reach parity with computers and a latest was the last model.

Solutions are the same. Clients know what they want. they have an idea of where the pieces fit together, but they need someone, a storyteller, to come and take the pieces and weave a solution from it. they want to hear how it can be done, not why it can’t. Building a solution for a client means that I take the pieces, map it in my head, put them back together so it forms a picture, explain the picture as I see it to the client, take on board their idea and work out how to make them both gel.

So here is some sage advice. read newsletters, articles, visit advice sites, but make sure that you pick and choose the information you need. don’t expect to understand everything, if you need to understand a concept, check with the solution providers, the business advisers that you currently use and allow them to research the possibilities, bringing to you an answer and a solution.



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