One of the most important business functions today is listening. However, listening only because listening is not something that will solve all of your problems. You need to transform your listening into learning if you want to know what to do next.
Many times we can find ourselves in a situation when we learn something new from listening. But, the right question is what we really do with what we have learned? If we don’t change something in our own behavior, it doesn’t mean that we have learned something new.
So, the end step here will need to be the activity or implementing what we have learned. Here I want to talk a little bit about these three important things for entrepreneurs: listening, learning, and actions resulting from listening and learning.
The First Step is Listening
Do you listen to your customers?
Do you listen to your broader community where your business operates?
One old saying goes like this: God gave us two ears and one mouth, and we need to use them in direct proportion.
This means that you as an entrepreneur need to listen two times more than you are speaking. I know that you always want to say more to your customers. To explain more. Also, I know that you want to say something more to your employees and team members. But, sometimes, you need to listen to them. You can not predict everything. You need to know about their feelings, wants, needs, and how they live their lives.
Only in such a way can you transform your listening skills into learning and knowledge.
How to Start Listening?
Start using Google alerts with certain keywords and phrases about you, your business, your products and services, your competitors and their products and services, or everything connected in some way with your industry. In such a way, whenever someone talks about these things, you will know about them as quickly as possible.
Most of the conversion today takes place on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Don’t forget them. Make a system that will give you the same information about everything you follow on your Google alerts. For example, I am using AgoraPulse functionality for listening (screenshot below). Also, there are many other solutions like Hootsuite that allow you to create streams related to listening keywords, brands, profiles, etc.
With listening, you increase your knowledge that, on the other side increases your business potential energy.
The Second Step is Learning – Entrepreneurial Knowledge Creation
As you already know, entrepreneurial knowledge is the second important success factor of entrepreneurs.
When you listen, you are learning something from that listening. How will you know exactly what you need to say if you don’t listen as a first?
You need to listen to your customers, your potential customers, your competitors, everything about your and competitors’ products and services, everything about your current and potential customers…
You need that knowledge if you want to make the best decisions for your business.
Also, you need that knowledge if you want to make the best products and services that will satisfy your customers’ needs.
If you want to position yourself and your business one step ahead of the competition, you need that knowledge.
The Third Step is Action Taking
So, until now, you have your listening system in place, and you have started to learn something new every day. The question now is what we can do with our new knowledge. If we don’t implement it in our everyday work, we have not learned something important.
You need to be systematic with this approach. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that you will implement what was already learned:
1. Design all important systems, procedures, and manuals
Start by designing all important systems, procedures, and manuals related to learning, transforming them into knowledge, and implementing the knowledge. You need them because they will ensure that you and your team will repeat all necessary steps continuously.
2. Designate specific time weekly or monthly
The next thing you will need to do is designate a specific weekly or monthly time to collect all the information from listening and start reading it. For example, DevonThink is a great place to put all the data you have collected through listening.
3. Extract specific knowledge
Extract specific knowledge (important information) from what you have read in the previous step. One great tool you can use related to knowledge creation is TinderBox (example in the screenshot below).
But, you can use whatever you want. For example, you can open one Excel file or Google Sheets and make columns for each topic where you will put extracted data with important information for your business. For example, your columns can be “your brand,” “your product,” “competitors products,” etc. Then, when you find the information that someone shares on social media about your product, you can write it in the cell on the “your product” column.
Write everything. Don’t escape those data that have negative sentiment related to your product. They are even more important than those with positive sentiments. While you will learn about what is good in your products or service through positive sentiment, you will also learn about negative things through negative sentiment. In such a way, you will learn what you need to improve inside your products or services. You can even use colors for different cells related to sentiments.
4. Make an Action Plan
Know when you know many new things, it is the right time to do something about that. Make an action plan, but include steps you need to take and the due date when you need to implement them.
5. Start With the Implementation and Continue to Learn
The last step here is related to the implementation. , you need to implement all action steps from your action plan. Bit, it is not only about implementation. It is more about improvements and gaining new knowledge. So, you need to measure the outputs of your steps and learn how you can make more improvements inside your business processes.