Warning: the Business Advice You are About to Hear….

April 29, 2007

It’s important to get good information and advice for your small business. But, while attending a speech last weekend it finally dawned on me that the most crucial advice is NEVER included.

There ought to be a cautionary label posted on every entrepreneurial speech, workshop and class: “Warning: the advice you are about to hear skips the most important part. Good luck.”

But, at the annual AIIP Convention (Association of Independent Information Professionals) in Minneapolis this past weekend, Sam Richter didn’t skip the most important part.

He was talking to an audience of information professionals. Believe me, these folks earn that title because they can find anything for anyone – online or off.

Even so, “information professionals” can be just as challenged when it comes to operating a small business as the next person. We understand — we face those same challenges.

So what did Sam include in his speech that everyone else seems to ignore? Let’s take a look at three key words– and then connect the dots.

The first word is “differentiation.” It may sound cliché, but this is THE watchword for any small business (or medium or large one, for that matter) Whether it’s a 30-minute stand-up routine, a 3-hour workshop or a weeks-long series of classes on entrepreneurship, it doesn’t matter. Everyone will tell you that you’d better differentiate yourself. Successful business owners understand what an essential element “differentiation” has become.

Sam then added the concept that in order to have “differentiation,” you have to have “creativity.” Creativity is right behind “differentiation” as the BIG concept in business these days – everyone wants it and many claim it, but the truth is very few have figured out how to get it.

Differentiate. Be creative. So far, so good. Everyone seems to agree on these concepts. But here’s the important part. Creativity needs a partner – and that partner is the third key word – “information.”

It comes down to this: you can’t have “differentiation” without “creativity” – and you can’t have “creativity” without a healthy dose of “information.” And that’s the missing link. In this day and age, it’s that last piece – “information” – that’s essential for success. And the vast majority of today’s entrepreneurial experts are not connecting the dots. They may understand how important the first two concepts are, but it’s that essential third piece that is missing.

Today, information is your business no matter what business you’re in. That shift has happened at lightning speed in just the past few years, and few business classes and workshops have kept up with the implications for entrepreneurs.

But, in his speech, Sam Richter put it all together. You see, Sam happens to be the President of the James J. Hill Business Research Library in St. Paul, Minnesota. Information is his business – big time. The James J. Hill Library and its online service at jjhill.org offer small businesses the equivalent information support of a huge corporate library. Just like the big guys, a small business can get sales lead databases, benchmarking resources, business intelligence, industry profiles, expanded news services and even personal (and I do mean personal) research support.

It’s the mission of the James J. Hill Library “to provide access to and assistance in finding the practical business information our clients need to succeed.” They package it all into your own low-cost, easy-to-use research department. We don’t want to sound like an advertisement, but a James J. Hill membership is still very much a hidden treasure – which makes it a huge opportunity for you. Sam calls it, “Business. Smarter.”

The next time you attend a class, read an article or hear a speech about small business success, ask yourself if they understand the power of information. Sam Richter does.

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