Knowledge Management

Increase Your Knowledge, Increase Your Business

Adding skills to your company is a vital part of growing one’s business. There are two main ways to do this: Learning the new skills yourself, or bringing on a partner. I’ve already discussed the pros and cons of bringing on a partner in a previous article, so in this one, I’ll talk about learning needed skills on your own.

In college, I majored in Computer Science. There were a couple of business classes that I was required to take for my major, but these were very basic — not nearly sufficient to provide me with the knowledge I needed to successfully manage my own business.

As such, when I started a business I began attending several business classes taught by my local Small Business Association (SBA) office. You can learn more about the SBA and their purpose, as well as find a local SBA office in your area, by visiting the SBA website at SBA.gov. Give them a call and find what classes they offer. I found my classes to be very helpful, and the information more immediately useful for my business than would be a typical college course.

College, naturally, would be another option. Doing the work required to earn a college degree in business management will provide you with an incredible wealth of knowledge that will help you understand the hows and whys of starting and running a successful business.

Finally, there are the consultants. This is the most expensive, and potentially risky option. Good consultants do not come cheap. You might ask, “If consultants know so much about making money, then why are they telling their secrets to other people?” Get a quote from one and you’ll quickly find out why. These are people that get paid for simply imparting their knowledge. Hardly what you would call back-breaking labor.

But if you find the right consultant, they can be worth every penny… assuming you take their advice and implement their tactics. Back in 1999 when I co-owned a computer retail business, my partner and I were paying a marketing consultant $300 per hour (comparatively cheap) for marketing advice. He once told me that some of his most faithful clients kept coming back because they loved his advice, but almost always failed to implement any of it.

Remember, whatever route you take to gain knowledge, implementing that knowledge to improve and grow your business is going to require work. Be sure you’re ready to commit to what it takes to succeed.

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Is America Too Stupid to Compete in the Global Economy

I was teaching a doctoral class over the week-end and one of the doctoral candidates came in with some very interesting statistics about the college graduation rates of various ethnic groups here in our great country. The numbers of college students graduating for Whites were around 33% for African Americans it was about 16% and for Hispanics it was around 12%. These very low numbers are alarming to say the least. That means on the whole only a very small portion of our citizens are going to college and graduating. You are probably asking yourself so what is the big deal? It is a very big deal and this is the reason why; we are on the precipice of a new economy that has a core in renewable energy, green technology, and the engineering capacity to reduce greenhouse gases and give the human race the ability to sustain the economy and the planet we live upon. As it stands the global economy is unsustainable as long as we focus on the present oil economy. So I did a bit more digging into the ability of our citizens to lead in these new industries.

Of course an educated workforce is the cornerstone of being able to compete in any industry so I gathered a few statistics on my own and the picture is not pretty to say the least. First of all only 33.28% of high school graduates even go to college let alone graduating from college. This specific number comes from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research study of college ready high school graduates over a period of 1991 to 2002. The numbers have gotten better but we still have a lot of work to do in laying the foundation that will keep America in the position to compete in the global marketplace at a vigorous rate. To break down the numbers by ethnicity, Whites as per the American Council on Education or ACE enrollment in college had jumped about 8% for African American the number of college enrollment climbed to 24% and for Hispanics that number rose to 18% respectively. Now there is hope on the horizon but the numbers of degrees conferred fell where it counts; in math and sciences. The industries in the new economy are heavily geared towards math and sciences and our college graduates are not getting degrees in these areas.

What is the connection? If you have been paying attention, there is movement of our policy makers in Washington to push America as leader in the new sustainable global economy and I applaud Washington for their leadership in this but is America ready to lead? I say no because of the disparity in the number of citizens that are not going to college or even graduate school. The number of students that are in college has risen some but not where it counts and that is in the disciplines of math and sciences. How are we going to lead let alone compete if we do not have the education to critically discern the market, ethics, or even the economics of this new marketplace?

I will leave you with a small anecdote, I was lecturing to an undergraduate class of marketing students and we had a small discussion on this very topic and the feeling was unanimous across race and ethnicity that these students only wanted to take classes that are expedient in ease and affordability. In other words, the consensus was that we want to pay little for our college education and we want only the easiest classes we can take to get our degrees. This includes classes that only offer the most remedial math and sciences and if we can get away with not taking those classes either the better it will be for us! I am not making this stuff up and this is a serious problem. I ask parents, educators, business owners and policy makers to make this a top priority otherwise the dream of America being the shining city on a hill is just a myth and it is about time we slap ourselves with reality and the reality is America as it stands now is too stupid to compete in the global economy.

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