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Learn the Secrets to Business Success

By Brian Hill

In the quest to increase revenues and profits for their businesses, savvy entrepreneurs try to find ways to learn from the practical experience and hard-won knowledge of others. For example, it's a good idea to create an informal advisory board for your company made up of business associates you trust -- and particularly those who are strong in areas where you might be weak. If you're a finance expert, you would benefit from asking people who expertise is in marketing to join your board.

Ongoing education is of course another way entrepreneurs learn how to be more effective managers. Make it a point to regularly attend business conferences in your local area. Even if the speakers are not from your industry, many of the concepts and tools are transferable -- what works in one industry will also be helpful to business owners in another. Going back to school for additional training doesn't mean having to drive to a college or university and participate in a classroom setting. South University Virginia Beach offers distant learning courses that are flexible and convenient for anyone looking to go back to school.

Online courses -- can be as short as one night seminars -- are available 24/7 so you can plan them around your business schedule.

A sometimes overlooked way of gaining practical business knowledge is to simply keep your eyes open and observe how people you purchase goods and services from conduct their business. You not only see what they do right, but where they are not meeting the expectations of their customers, including you. Pay attention to:

The listening skills of the company personnel. As you interact with them, do they really listen to the questions you ask and the concerns you have? Many times sales personnel appear disinterested because they were never schooled in the critical importance of customer service. Not every individual is naturally helpful, outgoing or empathetic. It's up to a company's owners to help their employees develop these skills. Make it a point to observe how your own employees interact with customers or clients. They may need periodic reminders about the high customer service expectations you have.

How the retail store or offices look and function. The opinions we form about whether we want to do business with a company are based on more than the quality of their products and services or their favorable pricing. Suppose you have a meeting with your CPA firm and the offices are a cluttered mess -- papers everywhere -- it can't help make you wonder whether they are organized and detail oriented enough to prepare your taxes accurately. Take a walk around your entire facility and look at it from the customer or client's point of view. What impression are you making?

How often a company is mentioned in the press. If you are a regular reader of the local newspaper's business section, specialized business publications and trade publications in your industry, you will notice that some companies seem to pop up over and over in the news. Why is that? Because they have made press coverage a part of their business strategy. Your company has accomplishments that are newsworthy. Start a program of regularly sending out press releases announcing them. You don't have to inundate the editors of the publications. Start with one press release every two months. If the story gets picked up, you have earned valuable exposure to potential customers or clients as well as creating brand name recognition for your company. You don't even need to spend money on paper and postage. Many editors accept emailed press releases.

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