How to Keep Your Finger on the Business Pulse

Running a business asks a lot of any entrepreneur; taking care of premises, employees, legalities, finances, accounts, taxes - and all of that on top of the core function of your company. It can be hard to find the time to keep all those balls in the air without working yourself into the ground, but there is one more thing you need to be doing. There is a plus side to this extra task, as it could be one of your key tools for keeping ahead of your opposition and saving time and money.

Current awareness

A rather fancy term which essentially involves keeping up to date with news and developments that are relevant to business and your particular niche. The reason it's so important is that without knowing what's happening and which new technologies are currently in development, you risk being left behind by the early implementers, and losing both the opportunity to win new business and information that could improve your productivity.

Primary sources

The sources you use for keeping up to date will vary according to your sector, but always start with your industry membership journals, website and social media feeds. These are at the core of an effective current awareness strategy because they will provide relevant information and news that is specific to your interests and curated by specialists in your field. They will have done a lot of the work for you, so take advantage of the knowledge professional bodies share and the insights into the future of your sector. Next, you want to keep abreast of business-related news in a more general sense, to keep you prepared for how markets are shifting or how events in the rest of the world could affect your business.

Complementary sources

The third level would be other journals and websites that cover your industry but are independently run. They can be useful for news your professional publication may have missed, information on closely related sectors and different opinions and approaches to the issues of the moment. Finally, it's a good idea to have a few general websites on your list such as presscave.com, that report on new and innovative products and services from around the world. These informal sites can be a rich source of knowledge and inspiration for your business development, complementing and building on what you learn from your core professional publications.

When you have your list of sources, make sure you have a plan for reading each source on a regular basis. You could diarise the publication dates of journals and fit in your online sources between those dates. Or you could set up news alerts, email lists and RSS feeds for the sites you want to keep reading. As you go through your sources, make sure you keep notes of items that are worth researching further and any developments that could assist you in running or promoting your business. You might find businesses or industry colleagues it would benefit you to make contact with, or projects that are looking for a company with your expertise. Make current awareness part of your working day, and you'll be able to lead the pack rather than trailing behind.