Great Business Ideas: Hire a Personal Information Officer

Great Ideas for your Small Business: Hire a Personal Information Officer

The information superhighway leads to information overload for many busy entrepreneurs. With so much to do, it’s difficult to find the time to keep up with all the websites, books, magazines, and professional journals we know we should be reading. One solution with multiple benefits is to ask your assistant or a key staffer to serve as your “personal information officer,” or PIO.

Your PIO benefits by being well informed and learning about your world, while you save time by reading only the material you absolutely must read. This system takes a little time and planning, but it will save you many hours over the long run.

First, decide which magazines, newspapers, and web- sites provide valuable information and insights for your particular business. If your daily newspapers are piling up unread, get started by pulling out the business section and recycling the rest. If you don’t subscribe to your industry’s top trade journal, subscribe right away.

Once you’ve made a “must-read” list of publications, go online and use search engines to find the websites that should be visited at least once a week (don’t forget to include “Bookmark” these sites or put them in “Favorites” so you can reach them quickly when you or your assistant sign on.

Collect a stack of current publications and sit down with your assistant to point out which articles are of particular interest to you. Note which columns (including my weekly newspaper column) you want clipped out every week. Some people want their assistant to highlight key para- graphs, as well.

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Create a “To Read” file for the clippings or computer printouts. Urge your PIO to be selective. You won’t be saving much time if he or she clips dozens of articles every week. In addition to articles and editorials about your particular industry and those that affect your business, your PIO should look for articles about the United States and world economies, unemployment, and interest rates. These may also be very helpful to your decision-making process.

While your PIO’s job is to fill up your “To Read” file, your job is to empty it out at least once a week. Carry the file with you and get into the habit of reading in line at the bank or the movies or while riding the train, bus, or subway. Try reading for a half hour in bed before you pick up the novel you’re reading for pleasure. I read in hotel lobbies and offices while waiting for appointments. Once it becomes a habit, you’ll look for times to do some quick reading.

If you prefer to listen to the news highlights, you might want to contact the Newstrack Executive Tape Service in Pitman, New Jersey. Newstrack hires professional announcers to record a variety of business columns clipped from publications around the United States.

The final step is deciding what to save and what to toss out. Save only the articles you know you will refer to again and discard the rest. I have long contended that a lack of pertinent information, rather than a lack of money, leads to business failure. Uninformed business owners invariably make poor business decisions.

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