06/04/2011

Business is a process of continuing learning. Share what you know to learn more.

By Andy Coote, Writer And Editor Of Bizwords

I sometimes hear the view that businesses need to protect what they know from competition and, for that reason, they are reluctant to share even those areas of their business that are not sensitive. I’m all for protecting trade secrets, but the number and extent of those is much smaller than many businesses seem to think.

When you want to learn, often the first people you call on are not Business Link or formal business support agencies. It is most often the people in your network – the people that you know, like and trust. Tapping into the wealth of experience, skill and knowledge around you or at any business or networking meeting, will benefit your business in the longer term. The trick is to share what you know and take the time to listen to others.

I have interviewed many people who take part in groups where potential ideas and solutions are developed for issues that are presented by one member of the group. Those mastermind or issues groups are wide ranging, often including businesses from many sectors. In this way, the benefits from experience in one sector can be transferred to others.

For example, we all work with other people, whether we call them clients, customers, service users or something else and there are transferable skills for engaging with and persuading these people to work with you successfully. So a care home manager could learn from a retail manager and a bank manager could learn from a Charity.

This process benefits everyone involved. Often we find that our ability to see solutions to our own problems simply dries up. We fail to see what to others may be obvious. When you are helping someone else, the process of thinking about the issue for them often sparks thoughts about your own business. I've spoken with many people who have put forward a solution for someone else's problem and immediately thought "why aren't I doing that?"

Importantly this is about giving without any expectation of reward or return. When you decide to give your support and our help to another, you open yourself to receiving support and help from others, and not necessarily those you help directly. This is not some new age philosophy either. It is human nature – we help those who help us. You may well be expert in what you do, but in the complex task of running a business, there will always be help, support and knowledge that can come from others.

You can pay a lot of money to access that knowledge or you can choose to share your knowledge with others. When you do, you'll find that it will often be reciprocated and the knowledge and support you receive will be as valuable as that you pay for.

Andy Coote is a writer and editor and runs Bizwords providing writing services for businesses and individuals. As part of that role, Andy has interviewed senior people at successful businesses who have used issues groups and networking to add to their knowledge and to find support. He has edited, and written for, the Virtual CEO Newsletter for over 4 years.

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