The answers to these and many more important questions will steer your thinking, decisions and actions ahead.
We already know that it’s survival of the fittest in business. If you can continually provide more perceived value to your customers than they actually pay you for, and do this for enough people, faster, better or cheaper than anyone else, then your business should be booming. The challenge is, this perception of value that our customers have is changing fast. So we’ve got to keep up.
The economic downturn is ‘weeding time’ and the strong will survive. If you’re not keeping up, then you’re falling behind. Don’t let this happen to you.
What do I mean by keeping up? I mean that you must know what’s going on around you. You must continuously learn every day, and then apply that learning to better serve your customers. If business is struggling, I would suggest that you haven’t yet learned (and applied) how to prevent it struggling. Perhaps you’re not watching the movements of your market. The success of your business centres on what you learn, how fast you learn it, and how effectively you apply it. This alone should motivate you to stay in the loop.
Learning enables you to be flexible and adapt to changes around you. A priority is to learn what ‘value’ is to your customers and keep on top of this as it changes. And you must learn how to provide this value cost effectively.
When I teach people how to learn fast and effectively to get the edge in business, I make one thing very clear; any thought, idea or piece of information could be written as an answer to a particular question. In other words, if you want to find the right thoughts, ideas, or information, then why not work on creating the perfect question that leads to it? This gives you focus and increases the chances of you finding the answer.
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To help guide you, I will list below some of the things that you should purposefully learn in order to survive the economic downturn as a soloist. You must learn them, stay on top of them, improve in them, and apply what you learn effectively to add more value to more customers.
Learn about and study:
- Your customers and what they perceive to be of value.
- Patterns and behaviours of your customers.
- Business and how it works.
- Money, how to manage and use it.
- The right skills, knowledge and behaviours for your role.
- The people you work with, your colleagues, suppliers and contacts.
- How to learn fast, process information fast, think and problem solve.
- How to transfer and apply learning to the job fast and effectively.
- Your competitors and their movements.
- What’s ahead in your industry and how technology and collaboration are changing things.
I suggest you go through this list again, add to it, and turn some of the ideas into important questions that will direct your thinking. Write these questions down, then refine and prioritise the list. Keep the list visible all the time. Then plan how you will learn to find your answers, and how you will continuously keep up to date with this information.
And remember, learning alone is not enough! You must also make sure you apply what you learn. How will you use it and when?
These questions have a lot of power in them, if you make the effort to find answers.
So, in order to survive through the economic downturn, make learning a top priority, and brush up on your learning and self management skills. Those who do have a competitive advantage and remember, better learning = better earning. As a soloist, this is clearly within your control.