1% of Every Day – 15 Minutes of Research

The last article focused on what to do when your app is not performing up to your financial expectations. That extends equally and completely to your business – whether as a single developer, sole proprietor, owner of any-sized company. It’s something you never stop doing – building, developing your business, even if your business. The same applies to your career.  There’s one other thing that deserves 1% of your effort, 15 minutes a day just about every day – research of future business possibilities and opportunities.

This research requires knowing where your present business strengths and development plans for up to 5 years. You might be strong in Java, PHP, Android, Graphics and Video now while your development plans may aim to expand your capabilities to iOS and pick up 2-3 additional languages (i.e. Portuguese, Chinese, etc.)   Or you might be good at making games, but want to move toward producing services and utilities. You need to know your capabilities for your research to be effective – defining the Who, What, Where of your place in the market. The How, Why and When… comes separately in most cases.

There are several ways you can approach this kind of business research, but a methodical approach to each is prudent.   It is strongly recommended to keep a record or diary of your research and preferably in electronic format for ease of future searching and topical organization. Copy and paste notes from web sites as you come across them as this is all for your own use.

Methods:

Specific Location – Focus on one area, whether a city or district, state or country, possibly several countries sharing the same language. Basically, you want to keep your thumb on the pulse of its business, especially as it relates to what you do. This can extend to socially and to the government. You want to know who else does the same kind of work as you do, you want to be informed of upcoming projects. Location based research is frequently best tied with local social networking and attendance of business conferences. Concurrent with your research, you want people to learn who you are – which means participating in local business forums.

Specific Industry – While you may be a programmer or app developer, you may also have experience in a specific field – medicine, logistics, investment services, gaming, etc. With these, you are aiming to be well ahead of the bell-curve on how the systems work and the new systems and technologies your field is moving toward. Developing relationships on this level can lead to free beta testing, subcontracted training and consulting, and ultimately becoming a “go-to specialist”. One of the first programmers I worked with focused specifically on high-end health care communications software and for a time was one of four programmers in the United States able to tender bids on projects with the Center for Disease Control.

Specialized Technology – Your focus is specializing in one type of technology, or perhaps a few. This could be video, security, payment systems, government communication and reporting systems, facial recognition, GPS, or anything else. What you are likely to be specifically looking for are opportunities to “merge technologies” – convergence related projects of which I see many coming to the fore in the near future with recent developments in voice and video technology for starters, combined with facial recognition, GPS, security and privacy. Look at who is doing what and where technologies can intersect. Can you tie the knot for them? To some extent this ties in with

Academic and Philosophical Solutions – The philosophy of computer science is another route of research and the object of much fascinating discussion in philosophical organizations and think tanks. This is frequently more in the realm of the abstract and boundless theory, ranging from personal privacy and copyright issues to human augmentation (even with Google Glass – banned in some stores) and computer driven vehicles. Tying in with the academic side lends to getting involved with projects backed by grants, as just one fringe benefit.

All of these methods can, do and to varying degrees should overlap. It depends entirely upon the focus of your career and business, especially the direction you want to take it.

Research is boring. It is not something from which you can expect immediate results. It is worth consistent, prolonged effort for the long-term. Many will find 15 minutes a day focused on 1-2 news items or leads sufficient. If you are at a total stand-still, it is something worth investing a full 8-12 hours a day into. The point is that a little bit of effort today will help guarantee that you always have something to do tomorrow.

This provides four different angles to work from, so you might choose the angle you like most.

Fifteen minutes a day, just Monday – Friday, equates to 65 hours over the course of a year. That’s exponentially better than 65 hours concentrated in 1-2 weeks, as the world is in constant motion.

Other aspects of what has been covered in this blog also apply. It is not always a matter of needing to be able to do everything yourself, so long as you know someone else who can.

We might define ourselves by our career field… I am a programmer or an app developer. That’s not all we do, nor is that the limit of our business potential any more than being a “coffee drinker” means the only thing you ever do is drink coffee.


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