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What's the secret to business success? Some might say it's having brilliant ideas; others may say it's having the right industry connections. But more often than not, the entrepreneurs and business leaders who rise to the top are the ones who are better prepared than their competition.
"We live in a world where we have so much access to information, and there's really no excuse [for not] being prepared," said Keith Wyche, author of "Good Is Not Enough" (Portfolio Trade, 2009) and co-author of "Corner Office Rules: The 10 Realities of Executive Life" (Kandelle Enterprises, 2013). "But so many people still don't take the time, so being prepared gives you a leg up."
One of the biggest advantages preparedness provides is the confidence to prove your expertise. [Beating the Odds: 4 Steps to Startup Success]
"When you've researched your industry, customer or client and done your homework, it allows you to talk in a completely confident way," Wyche told Business News Daily. "It shows that you're someone who's competent and has control of the facts."
For startup founders in particular, preparedness can also be the difference between getting rejected and getting what you need to launch and grow their business. Wyche noted that entrepreneurs who do their due diligence have an edge when it comes to securing loans, receiving investor funding and negotiating contracts.
Perhaps the most important thing preparedness can do for you is help you understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Wyche recommended performing a SWOT analysis for your business so you can get ready for any trends or changes that might impact your industry. Armed with this knowledge, you can surround yourself with people who complement your strengths and weaknesses to meet any potential obstacles ahead.
"Too often, we look at everything on a quarterly basis," he said. "I advise business professionals and entrepreneurs to look two years out. What might be happening [in your industry]? Had video and book stores done that, they might have seen the challenges of online [entertainment] coming."
Being prepared isn't all about looking months and years ahead, though. Prepping yourself beforehand for your day-to-day tasks can help meetings, conference calls and projects go much more smoothly, Wyche said.
"When you prepare your days in advance, you will find ways to be more efficient in your work," Wyche said. "Think through an agenda and anticipate questions, challenges and concerns. Once you've thought about things [your colleagues or clients] might say and objections you might get, think about how to overcome them. By preparing for objections, you're better able to come off as competent and impress your audience."
Making preparedness second nature to you is as simple as fueling your desire to learn.
"Be a continuous learner, and have intellectual curiosity," Wyche said. "Always ask why."
Originally published on Business News Daily.