Everyone knows change is constant and some times unpredictable. So how to keep up with the changes, particularly those around technology, social media, regulations and particularly cyber security?
How indeed? Simple answers such as “be part of an email list that provides you with the latest news” or regularly visit particular websites presupposes that a small business person is just hanging around waiting to do things. We are a busy group of people and we receive a lot of emails and correspondence. We will and do forget to check the latest news, we do miss emails or find they are poorly written and difficult to access.
There is no one answer. In my opinion the first thing for a small business person to do is become a member of a relevant industry association, a good one. These associations will know what you need to know and they should know how to communicate that to you in a timely and sensible manner.
Attending events such as CeBIT is also important. Besides being fabulously interesting it will provide vital information on the latest good things in technology and in process. This also applies to other conferences and workshops particularly ones run by your industry associations.
Another activity thing to do is make sure you are part of a network of other business people. It shouldn’t matter if it is a formal group that meets regularly or an informal group that will catch up over coffee. These groups are where traditionally small business people gather the latest gossip on their industry, their community and their businesses, that will often include information on what is working and what is problematic and also what threats, physical and cyber, might be around. Indeed this has been the behaviour of businesses in retail for a long time. They will tell each other when a gang of shoplifters are in town, or when the government intends to close some carparks so they can gang up and stop them. They will swap notes on workers and on new businesses that have started up or what happened to a business that closed down. These groups of business people are powerful when it comes to gathering knowledge and discerning fact from fiction.
Of course social media might not be your thing or you might not have time but it is one source of information. Particularly if you are part of the network of the State Small Business Commissioners and the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise
Ombudsman. These people tweet and Facebook a lot of information that is easy to read and normally informative. Tweets are quick to read and normally have links that help expand on a subject.
Another method of knowing what is happening is through family and employees. Teenagers are a fount of knowledge if you can just get them to sit still for a while, or if they are sitting still at a computer game – how to get them to actually listen. But they do have knowledge of what is happening in the cyber world.
Employees are of course connected to the workplace and to other networks and asking them to keep you informed is something that employees often appreciate (having their opinion and knowledge valued).