To make this year the year you successfully start a profitable business (or make the business you have already started more profitable than ever), resolve to be the smartest person you know about the business you are in.
It’s a bold objective, but it is possible. Here’s how to do it:
1. Read the business press voraciously but efficiently. You don’t need to spend more than 30 minutes a day on this. Be selective about your reading. Focus on books, articles, and essays that pertain to your industry – primarily the “how-to” pieces. Give preference to authors who’ve done it themselves as opposed to academics and/or journalists.
2. Supplement your reading by going to seminars and attending conferences. Person-to-person contact is invaluable.
3. Take meaningful correspondence courses. When you find a good home-study program that pertains to your field, don’t hesitate to invest some time and money in it.
4. Seek the advice of experts. Write personal notes. Send e-mails. Call for interviews.
5. Study the competition, especially companies that are growing. If a competitor is doing well, you can assume he knows at least one important thing about your business that you don’t. Do whatever it takes to learn his secret.
6. Network. The more people you know, the better chance you will have to find someone to solve every one of your problems. A big network is also a steady source of opportunity.
7. Be generous with your colleagues and your competitors. When people learn that they do well whenever they work with you, they will be more willing to come to you with opportunities.
There is no limit to the number of new businesses the Internet, with its worldwide reach, can absorb. If you have a product or service that is needed (or simply wanted), you can be successful – and you will be successful if you commit yourself to learning.[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]