Recently I have noticed that some fellow small business owners are finding some new regulations challenging. Whether it be grappling with the new health care law or trying to figure out how to charge taxes on online sales, new regulations are continually forcing owners to adapt. This is not necessarily bad as it forces some sort of “survival of the fittest”, or “creative destruction” via Schumpeter, however doing so by imposing more regulations is hardly ideal. As a small business owner below are some tips that you can use to stay informed:
1. Be “involved” with your area chamber of commerce. Now this is different from joining, which usually involves a fee. Joining the Chamber of Commerce is not for every owner, but selecting a few chamber of commerce functions a year and paying the non member rate to attend will allow you to get some insights into what the business community in your area is facing. Listening in these functions is key!
2. Stop by City/County Council meetings at least once a quarter. These governmental bodies are notoriously slow, you dot have to be there for every meeting, it usually takes them months to get anything done. Go once a quarter and see what issues they are discussing.
3. Talk to your business partners and customers. If you have suppliers talk to them about their issues and how business is going. Talk to your customers about their issues. Most importantly listen. Their issues will ultimately affect your business. I am not talking about long conversations (although if you want to have those go ahead) but 2 or 3 minutes here and there with a big enough sample might help you make generalizations about your business environment.
The point here is that in order to adapt you must identify the problem and in order to do so you must listen! These are just different venues to arrive at the same conclusion. Listening will give you an edge on what the problems are now, what problems might arise and how to tackle them.