Agility Matters: Here’s How To Make Your Business Knowledge-Based
The successful entrepreneur sets objectives and takes risks, is persuasive and persistent, honors commitment, seizes opportunities, and always seeks information. We all know this! This is entrepreneurship 101.
But, of course, the devil lies in the details: how do you work on yourself both organizationally and psychologically to harness the right behavior that will get you where you want to go? Most ambitious entrepreneurs go to training sessions, follow executive coaches, read, get inspired, and watch the behaviors of the most successful, not necessarily just those in business, but also in sports, politics, life etc.
But in this day and age, it’s not enough to work on one’s behavior to build on the latent entrepreneurial propensities we may have. Entrepreneurial characteristics are important! And those who “naturally” (or through work on oneself) combine as many of those as possible are the most successful! They feel filled and driven.
But future successes in a fast changing world will come also from how much you and your staff know, how you use that learning to get more customers, how much you use technology to seek information, and how agile you are to use it to excel, compete, and lead.
Be on the lookout Looking for information is a founding habit of successful entrepreneurs. But there is a wide difference between finding information, and acting upon it. If you are in the hospitality industry, and found out that oil prices have fallen sharply today, your conclusions should be that airlines’ yield will improve, and their capacity to carry more travelers will be enhanced. If you stop there, then you are no different from anybody sitting on their couch, and sipping soda while the news channel pour in information. The slick entrepreneur will take that information and use it to get more travelers, more customers, a better contract, a win/win deal.
Create a learning organization Many mistake “learning” for “having well-educated staff.” But it’s way more than that. Using your collaborators’ knowledge, enhancing it, building on it to harness a vision for how to do better is the basis for a learning organization. You need to incite everyone to always challenge settled habits and mental structures. Staff that keep repeating to themselves that “there is a better way” without being given the chance to say what it is or having it challenged will end up clogging the system or parts of it. For what it’s worth, what your collaborators know is your capital: enhance it, use it, challenge it and seek to make it grow by the hour.
You are a beacon! Not only do you seek information and process it in order to use it, but you share it as well. Your role as a mentor should be enhanced by how much you know and how much you translate that knowledge into tips, advice and ideas for your teams to use and aspire to. Some managers spend time going around, meeting staff and discussing ways to find solutions or exploring new ideas. This type of “entrepreneur-as-mentor” (or “master” to use a sufi metaphor) not only motivates his/her collaborators but uses knowledge to build trust and create openness for new ideas and new thinking.
We are all leaders Your collaborators should all understand that each of them leads through what he/she knows best! If they are listened to and what they say is valued, they will grow to be leaders, in their field, their specialty, in what they are inclined to do best. Leading is using your skills and your knowledge to “teach” people to go the extra mile to achieve results.
Don’t be afraid to use new technologies Technology and social media are not only just tools. They are invaluable sources of information, and powerful ways to build brand, reputation and keep your stakeholders informed and alert. Instead of being the last person to “join the club,” be the pioneer. Be entrepreneurial about technology: take risks, invent ways, espouse new ideas, be the first to make it work for you.
Search your customers, understand the market There’s a lot of talk about “big data,” but don’t be scared by big words. “Big data” is only another word for the amount of information you need to process to understand customer behavior and market trends and act upon them. Google and Amazon use it daily to make recommendations on how to influence customer behavior. But your needs should be less extensive. Experts are nowadays available to guide and help you.
Conclusion: always strive to innovate. Learn new tricks daily. Create an award for the boldest idea of the week or the month. Invest in research to find solutions to present and future solutions. Don’t let problems settle in and become overwhelming, before inventing ways and means to deal with them. Knowledge is also knowing your problems even when they are still at the level of a sign or a trend. If your sales go down once, don’t ignore that sign: do your research, alert staff and take measures before it is too late.