Thursday, 8 April 2010

What are your business by-products?

One thing that got me thinking at SXSW was Jason Fried’s suggestion that we should work out what are the by-products of our businesses. What takes no additional effort to create, but are natural by-products of what we do? I kind of visualised it as the sawdust on the floor. In my own business and through my story, my natural by-product is know-how that I have repacked into a series of books: “Juggle!”, “Leap!” and now “Unplan…”.

As I write this I’m listening to a trailer for Zappos Insights. What’s ‘Zappos Insights’? It’s a management programme/ learning package developed by Zappos, the online retailer. It’s not what they ‘do’ as the core business, but in getting such great feedback from the marketplace on the Zappos factor, and requests for ‘how can we create a culture like Zappos at our company?’ they swept up their sawdust – their know-how – and packaged it into a development and learning programme.

So, what’s your by-product and what are you going to do about it?

*Picture credit Waldoj on Flickr


Phil Leggetter said...

I'd like to think that a lot of people are in a similar position to you; gaining knowledge every day. The only difference is that not everybody decides to share that knowledge. Some do this because they see their knowledge as having value that they don't want to share, some because they don't have a method of sharing, and others because they just don't have the time to.

There's no doubt that some knowledge can be classed as intellectual property and potentially shouldn't be shared. But, I'd bet that the amount of knowledge that falls under this is probably very small. There's much more value in sharing information with others. It shows that you are knowledgeable and if you keep sharing you become known for that and associated with the things you talk about. A great example of this is you, Ian, and the juggle lifestyle.

I'm trying to do the same thing with real-time web technologies. I'm building a service and as I develop the service and gain interesting knowledge about the technologies I blog and tweet that information so that others can benefit from it. The tweet and blog content is my by-product.

For those that don't know how to share their knowledge (by-product) then there are loads of options. If you have any interested in using technology, and depending on the type of person you are, there are Blogs, online video and social networks. If you are not into tech then I'm betting there will be a club or group nearby (check out where you can learn and share. Or, obviously, you can write a book :-)

Ian Sanders said...

Thanks for taking the time to feedback Phil. You raise a good point. The taboo of handing over knowledge to others: if 'information is power', then why would you hand that over to someone else? I think your observation that your blog and twitter stream are both by-products is spot-on, I never thought of them like that before. Cheers for your other tips - really valuable stuff.