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Five ways to stay relevant in business

by Kim Bainbridge /

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Earlier this year, a variety of news outlets reported that Jawbone, the headphones-and-speaker-company-turned-fitness-wearable-fad, would be shuttering its doors. At the time, Jawbone founder and CEO Hosain Rahman told media outlets that he would be pivoting to work on a new company he called Jawbone Health Hub.

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“At its height, [Jawbone] had been valued at $3 billion,” wrote NBC tech reporter Alyssa Newcomb in July 2017. It was one of the early fitness tracker companies and was regularly lauded in tech and fashion magazines as the wearable for the stylish urban consumer. Still, it fell short of expectations.

To that end, it only makes sense to think that any business is at risk of being behind the times if it isn’t actively thinking ahead of the curve.

Here are five accessible ways to stay relevant.

Watch videos online

YouTube has exploded with expert user-generated content on just about everything. From business finance tutorials to coding courses, business leaders are likely to find the answers to most of their questions in video form online.

So, search online for videos on topics of interest, and get free, relevant lessons wherever you are.

Look at your own sales trends

Today’s consumers are far less brand loyal than they were 30 years ago. This means that you may have to work even harder to earn their trust and keep them coming back for more. One way to keep them coming back is to offer them new, hot and trending items before the competition. Another way to make sure that you are keeping ahead of the competition is to pay very close attention to your sales beyond the bottom line.

Are a lot of people buying things that they didn't buy before? Are they asking for a specific new offering? Talk to your customers with your numbers in mind to identify hot trends.

Read trade magazines

Being busy is no excuse to stop learning. You must actively seek out opportunities to stay abreast of what is happening in your industry, and trade magazines are easily one of the best resources.

It's not enough to subscribe to the magazines. You must read them.

Trade magazines include targeted, credible, insider information. They can provide many points of view for the same problem. They can give you a sense of what your larger community is working on so that you can incorporate some of the most popular practices at your business or develop new practices of your own.

Track your competitors

In some circles, it has become popular to say, “We don’t care about what the competition is doing.” However, there are real advantages in keeping an eye on what your competition is doing.

Tracking your competition can be a huge time and money saver. Noting their failures and success allows you to see which kind of marketing initiatives or products will resonate with your consumers.

Are they investing in new services? Is there is a place for you to fill a void or do something better? Can you find your competition’s disgruntled employees on social media and help them out?

Try tracking your competitors regularly for ideas on which new products to test at your business or to see if the competition is missing something.

Follow industry leaders on social media

Like YouTube videos, social media offers up-to-the-minute information on almost everything.

It can also be a great way to learn more about the people who are influencing your industry in critical ways.

There are an infinite number of ways that following industry leaders on social media can help you keep your business relevant. To name just a few: (1) Getting the opinions of thought leaders can help to challenge your own beliefs on where your industry is headed. (2) Thought leaders often have social media styles that can inspire you and your team when you need some fresh ideas. (3) Your audience is likely paying attention to these influencers, so you can get some good insight by being where they are.

Ultimately, almost no company is immune to changing consumer tastes and evolving marketplaces. Business leaders need to stay ahead of the curve to survive. So, take these and other precautions to keep your business relevant for years to come.

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