Image by: Rousseau
By Dexter Lunde
When you work in the field of business, whether you own your own or if you’re in a partnership (or in management), you have to stay on top of the trends. You must keep learning about business (and all of the topics that roll into business: marketing, sales, management, technology, etc.) and about your specific product.
If you sell leather products, you have to keep up with the latest in leather goods. If you sell sporting goods, you have to keep up with the latest in sports trends.
I can’t specifically help you with your particular market. I can, however, help you find some great resources to help you stay up to date in the latest business trends and information. These are the best resources out there for businessmen.
#1) Silicon Valley, CA
Silicon Valley is the nicknames for a section in Northern California that encompasses the South Bay part of San Francisco and San Jose. It is a hub for high-tech businesses and has become a metonym for the field of high-tech companies in America. In the San Jose area, more than 10,000 patents were issued in 2011. That is nearly 10% of the US patents for that entire year.
Over 30 University campuses are located in the area (including extensions of UC Berkley and UC Santa Cruz). Professional education is big in the Valley because of the constant advancement in business and technology. Because of this, outside education is also (if not more) important.
If the business is constantly changing, who can afford to take class after class? Well, a lot of concepts can be learned outside the classroom by meeting with people in the same field. You can learn from each other, brainstorm ideas, and talk about what you’ve learned from others.
If you’re interested in some outside education in business and you’re in the area, check out the Community Calendar which includes networking events, user groups, and meetups.
If you don’t have the advantage of living on the west coast and can’t afford time or money for the trip, the CreativeLIVE offers this course on The Secrets of Silicon Valley taught by Reid Hoffman (the Fo-Founder and Executive chairman at LinkedIn), Guy Kawasaki (author and entrepreneur), Spencer Rascoff (Chief Executive Officer and Director of Zillow Inc), and a dozen others.
#2) Free Online “Courses”
If you’re feeling a bit anti-social or just have some extra time while you’re at home, I suggest that you check out some free online “courses”. I put “courses” in quotations because you don’t actually get credit for them, nor do you get any kind of assignments. However, there is a wealth of information that is distributed over the internet, that we aren’t using in order to achieve our full potential as businessmen.
Kahn Academy is fantastic at offering courses in math, science, economics, finance, basic computer programming, and computer science without any cost and straight into your living room…or office (wherever you feel like studying).
YouTube has a lot of online videos that you can check out including this course titled ”Entrepreneurship Through the Lens of Venture Capital” from Stanford University.
#3) Online Communities
Small businesses are everywhere so in hopes to share each other’s knowledge, online communities (strictly for small business owners) have popped up everywhere.
Start-Up Nation was founded by entrepreneurs and is a free online community that will help you start a business by sharing articles, blogs, networking opportunities, and answering questions on their forums. Scroll through the wealth of information all over their website.
While Start-Up Nation may appear as a newbie tool (it’s not – there’s info for everyone), The Small Business Hub is for every businessman, no matter where you are in your business endeavor. They have templates, insights, forums, solution guides, articles, videos & podcasts, an event calendar, and newsletter. There is even a report strictly for sales trends.
#4) Miami, FL
If you’re on the east coast, RefreshMiami’s events calendar for events in the area including hiring fairs and workshops.
Miami-Dade County is big on tourism which means that if you have the right business, you have an endless supply of customers (I mean, people) that may potentially mosey down to your storefront. If you’re considering tapping into this great advantage, make sure that you check out their public and private-sector programs.
#5) The Google+ Business Community
For personal use, Google + doesn’t appear to have a big presence. However, businesses all over the world have been on Google + like white on rice. With over 359 million active members, it’s making its move behind the scenes.
Entrepreneurs, Self-Employed & Small Business is my favorite Google Plus Page because they truly appear to want to help its users instead of just “adding to their friends list”, if you know what I mean. There are various topics that run from start-up questions, self-employment topics, marketing & sales, tax questions, to crowd-funding & fundraising.