Most business owners appreciate the value of a good conference. They leave with new ideas on expanding their business, a deeper understanding of changes in the market, new professional skills, new connections and perhaps (at really good conferences) a renewed sense of purpose and focus.
Now image if you could get all of those benefits without the hassle of traveling, putting on fancy clothes and suffering through free meals to hear some sponsor pitch their product. Well you can and it gets even better. You can do all these things in the moments when you feel the least productive. For example, waiting in traffic, running errands or during your morning workout.
It is called a podcast and if you haven’t accessed this powerful tool to help you grow your business (and your mind) you are missing out.
What is a podcast?
Wikipedia describes podcasts as “a digital medium consisting of an episodic series of audio, video, PDF, or ePub files subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device.” Currently, podcasts can be viewed/listened to/read on a wide variety of technology. Most programs release new podcasts weekly and can contain content ranging from educational pieces to interviews with experts to comedic performances or just conversations between friends.
While the term “podcast” can refer to multiple mediums, I have found the most valuable for small business owners is the audio. The majority of my points are referring specifically to the audio format.
Who makes them?
That is the great thing about podcasts. It is an open market. Whether they are industry experts, everyday business owners (like Empowered Lab), entertainers, and journalists, you name it they can make a podcast.
The internet has revolutionized how we can learn. Now expertise is not limited to those with the greatest resources. We can learn from a variety of voices with a variety of backgrounds. Personally, I find this incredibly empowering. I learn best listening to a variety of voices talk about their experiences so I can find patterns and determine what is relevant to me. I do not learn well from a stage or professor giving large generalities. Increased access to the internet and content creation as given rise to new platforms that present information in a variety of ways.
Since anyone can make a podcast it does mean that you have to take the time to find content that is valuable to you and since the content is mainly free it rarely requires a huge up front investment.
Why should small business owners care about podcasts?
Small businesses are required to have a wide and varied skill set. They need to learn constantly about marketing, financials, changes in the market place, you name it. They also have very little time. Podcasts are a great solution to both of these challenges. They allow you to learn on your schedule.
Currently, the small business podcast market is saturated by marketers and personal growth gurus. However as a small business owner I have found a lot of value in the podcast that keep me up to date on changes in our world and new trends.
For example, the most valuable podcast for my business has been the NPR TED Radio Hour Podcast. I love TED Talks but I rarely find 15:00+ minutes in front of a computer where I am not answering emails or working. This clever little program interviews three to four popular TED Talks presenters about their subjects while intertwining clips of their TED talk throughout the interview. These TED Talks provide inspiration and creative ideas on how to innovate new solutions to challenges in my business.
Obviously, this is the part that I hope to change. I clearly think that podcasting is a valuable tool. So I launched my own podcast specifically designed to interview real business owners, to help people connect with new skills and provide innovative new solutions for small businesses. But there is another value of podcasting! You can see a need and fill it.
Almost every business owner I know has a pile of articles, blogs and books that they want to read but frankly they never find the time. You add onto that a long list of workshops, webinars and conferences that they would like to attend but end up not having the time or the resources. I think that all small business owners have a value for learning we just need to embrace the new technology that allows us to learn on our schedule.
Alright we get it, how do I listen to a podcast?
To break it down simply, you want to go download an app that allows you manage and listen to the podcasts on your phone or MP3 player. Through these apps you can subscribe to a podcast and have new episodes made available on your device when you want them.
Now, depending on what type of phone you have your process may change. On the iPhone you go to the App Store and search “podcast”. There are several apps you can download. Download one then you have two options. You can go through the app and search for podcast based on categories, popular programs or search for specific names…say for example, Tales of Small Business, hit the cloud symbol to download them and listen. You can do the same steps but on your desktop by searching on iTunes.
Other phones are a similar process. For example if you have an Android device you can go to Google Play and download an app, search in the app, then subscribe or download.
Most podcasts also have the ability to go directly to their website and listen from the website or download the MP3.
I prefer the podcast app because eventually you will have a lot of episodes and the ability to organize and subscribe is powerful and easy.
Finally, there are new niche sites that specialize in podcasts. A great example of these new sites is Stitcher Radio. You can download the Stitcher app then search and subscribe to podcasts. Stitcher also gives you recommendations on podcasts that you may like based off what you commonly listen to, similar to Netflix with movies and TV shows. You also have the option to listen directly from your desktop. Stitcher focuses on more independent and unique content. Of course the Tales of Small Business podcast is available on Stitcher as well.
Podcasts are just one of the most recent tools that technology has made available to us that empower individuals to learn. How you consume information is incredibly personal. As a business owner your time and knowledge are two of the greatest commodities that you have. Use them wisely and know all the options that are available to you.
So the next time your butt is sore because you are sitting a workshop ask yourself, why am I not sitting in my backyard with a tropical drink listening to Kristin’s podcast?
Do you have a business podcast you listen to? Let us know in the comments.