Guide

Knowledge management and business growth

Identify business knowledge sources

Whatever the size of your business, there are many sources of business knowledge, including the following.

Customer knowledge

You should understand your customers' needs and what they think of you. You may be able to develop mutually beneficial knowledge-sharing relationships with customers by talking to them about their future requirements, and discussing how you might be able to develop your own products or services to ensure that you meet their needs. Research and develop ideas, new products and services.

Employee and supplier relationships

Seek the opinions of your employees and your suppliers - they'll have their own impressions of how your business is performing. You can use formal surveys to gather this knowledge or ask for their views on a more informal basis. See lead and motivate your staff and manage your suppliers.

Market knowledge

Watch developments in your business sector. How are your competitors performing? How much are they charging? Are there any new entrants to the market? Have any significant new products been launched? See understand your competitors and market research and market reports.

Knowledge of the business environment

Developments in politics, the economy, technology, society and the environment could all affect your business' development, so you need to keep yourself informed. You could consider setting up a team to monitor and report on changes in the business world. See inform and consult your employees.

Professional associations and trade bodies

Get information from publications, academic publications, government publications, reports from research bodies, trade and technical magazines. Search for a trade association.

Trade exhibitions and conferences

These can provide an easy way of finding out what your competitors are doing and to see the latest innovations in your business sector. See trade shows and exhibitions to find out how to get the most out of them.

Product research and development

Scientific and technical research and development can be a vital source of knowledge that can help you create innovative new products - retaining your competitive edge. See use innovation to start or grow your business.

Organisational memory

Be careful not to lose the skills or experience your business has built up. You need to find formal ways of sharing your employees' knowledge about the best ways of doing things. For example, you might create procedural guidance based on your employees' best practice. See create a knowledge strategy for your business.

Non-executive directors

Recruiting non-executive directors can be a good way for you to bring on board specialised industry experience and benefit from ready-made contracts. See recruiting directors.

Collaboration between businesses and associated institutions

Groups of businesses or associated institutions with common interests - known as clusters - sometimes join forces in order to share knowledge. For more information, see business growth through collaboration.