Richard Nixon was so concerned about what the Democrats were up to that he was implicated in the Watergate scandal, which began with a break-in at their national headquarters. While some people may go to extremes, you don’t need to be a crook to find out what your industry and your competitors are doing. Here are some things you can do to learn what’s going on in your marketplace.
Become an industry insider.
Whether you’ve been in business for a few months or several years, it’s important to keep up with the latest industry trends. Join a professional organization for your industry. Almost every industry has national conventions, trade shows and educational sessions you can attend. They also publish educational material, industry reports, magazines and regular e-mail communications to keep you in the know in your industry.
Network to make it work.
While you’re hanging out at those industry events, talk to others throughout the country to find out what’s working and what challenges other business owners are facing. Back home, don’t be afraid to talk with your competition. You’ll learn a lot by just listening.
Shopping is the secret to success.
Have a new employee? Make one of their learning exercises a visit to some of your competitors. They will gain experience about how your industry works and they’ll bring back valuable insights for you to better your business from pricing to customer service. Make it a practice to find out what’s going on around town at least once a year.