Joan, you got me with your headline. LOL. Nice job! And very good tips, well presented. Thanks for this article. ~ Deah
Reading for Business Improvement is CRAP!
Think reading another book about business is a waste of time? That's CRAP...
As entrepreneurs it is our responsibility to stay on top of trends, industry news, general business practices and even expand our horizon. To make sure your time spent reading results in education that helps your bottom line consider these steps:
C: Choose and Commit. There is so much reading material among newspapers, websites, magazines, books and blogs, your first step is to decide how much time you can devote, and where to best find the material which suits your need.
- Set a goal. What do you want to accomplish? Read to learn. Do you need help in marketing? Do finances make you dizzy? Have you lost touch with customers? Feeling burned out and looking for some inspirational words? Write down one problem for which you’d like to find the answer. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your business.
- You’ve heard this before… schedule your time to read. It’s the newspaper-with-breakfast habit for reading maintenance. Find two or three blogs to land in your RSS feed. Then read for a few minutes at the same time each day. Log on to a favorite network (Biznik) with fabulous articles to peruse at least once a week. Join a monthly business book club to help you stay accountable to your reading goal.
- Create a reward system. Do you like to sit at the coffee shop? Make this a one or two hour stop each week. Take your book, grab a cup of java and enjoy. Head to the library for a cushy chair; it’s cost-effective, too. Buying a new book? Grab a seat and read the first chapter, even before you leave the store. Get out of the office so you can concentrate. That means turn off the cell phone, unless it has e-book delivery!
- Keep it with you. There are so many 10 and 15 minute breaks when out and about that reading may be more productive than downloading the latest phone app. (Oops. Sorry phone geeks!)
R: Read! and Read Discriminately. Are you busy? Too busy to improve your business? Can you afford not to read? When you make reading choices that will help your business, you can look forward to results that may make your life as an entrepreneur happier, richer and smarter!
- Well written business-centric material is usually outlined for you. Read the table of contents, chapter headings, and subheading. This may seem logical, but many people actually miss these pointers in their short-cut to reading. These help reinforce main concepts the author presents.
- Read for content. Ask yourself questions: What’s the most important idea I take away? Do I agree or disagree with the author? Is there an underlying business principle to ponder? What specifically can I use to improve my business? Is there an “aha” moment? Confused by the material? Are there questions you need to ask someone else? Has this helped you see from a different perspective?
- Makes notes… Dog-ear, yellow highlighter, margin notes, post it, flags, underline. Whatever works for you is OK. Make connections to what you read and how it can improve your business. Be specific. Talk back to your book by making notes.
- Get to the conclusion. Finish the book! If you are pressed for time, go to the first and last paragraphs of each chapter through the end of the book. Often you’ll pick up the main ideas. Then you can choose the most relevant chapters to fill in your reading. Better yet, read the entire book and use this tip as a good review technique for book clubs, and article writing.
A: Articulate. There is nothing better for recognizing what you’ve read than to explain to someone else. Regurgitating your reading to the outside world will let you know how much you really learned. Plus, reading gives you a great conversation starter for business networking.
- Talk. Prepare yourself to give a synopsis of your reading. Can you sum up the main points in a few sentences? Why did you like the selection? Or, why not? Use those notes you took or find a highlighted passage. What moved you to take notice? Important? Arguable? Insightful? What is your reaction? Did you change your mind once you read along further? Talk with a business partner, start an office reading group, go to that networking meeting or share with your book club. Once you begin to talk about the ideas aloud you will naturally find your voice for agreement, criticism or improving your business. Try on the ideas aloud.
- Blog. Reading does double duty here. Write a book review for your readers. Just make sure it is relevant to their customer experience. You’ll be sharing your knowledge of business practices that will improve their world through better services or industry knowledge.
- Turn what you’ve read into a personal story to share. Has the selection changed your outlook? What’s in it for you? Enthusiastically endorse the reading selection by telling a story of success based on the book.
P: Practice. Insight is only as good as your responsibility to carry through. Can you apply what you learned? Did you jot down a revelatory comment? Find it and use it! If not now, then add great ideas to your strategic plan.
- Transfer the appropriate notes from your reading to your to-do list. Just a few ideas a year can transform a good business into a great business.
- Take action on the original problem that you sought the reading selection to solve. What were you hoping to accomplish? Did you find the answer?
- Keep an idea book that references the book or article, page and idea. Go through every month or so. Sometimes good ideas need to be revived at a later date.
Most businesses require some form of reading to stay current. Take your reading a step further by processing ideas with others. Make the words go from the page to action toward improving your bottom line.
You can act on your reading commitment at Read ‘em and Meet, a Biznik virtual and local monthly book club for improving business. Join! Share your favorite book titles along with how it has affected your business, or why you’d suggest it, in the I Recommend discussion. Be persuasive and you may see your selection for an upcoming pick of the month. Virtual group members can read the monthly selection and converse in the related discussion. The South Sound WA Read ‘em and Meet gathers the second Tuesday each month. Check back for book reviews and new selections often!
Learn more about the author, Joan Hitchens.
Comment on this article
Posted by Deah Curry PhD, CPC, Kirkland, Washington |
Sep 13, 2009
Posted by Joan Hitchens, Olympia, Washington |
Sep 14, 2009
Glad someone has a sense of humor still! I was begining to think we take ourselves too seriously! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Posted by Larry Zambito, Patchogue, New York |
Apr 07, 2013
Joan Thank You in my case very helpful info.
Larry D Zambito
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