Step 3 – Understand the business

By far, the people I see who make the most money in the marketplace are those that have a good understanding of both technology and business. I’ll never forget an important business lesson I learned many years ago, from a former boss. Businesses are there for one reason: to make money. It may sound a bit harsh, but let’s face why else would you go into business. Hopefully the business is the type that wants to do so in a moral, ethical way, and in a fashion that makes both the business and the customer feel good.

If you’re like me, you got into technology because it’s “cool”. We love making the electrons sing and dance within the computer at are whim. However, our bosses, or customers, our internal business partners don’t necessarily share our love of tech. In order to get the approval to implement our new whiz-bang project, we need to be able to do two things. First we need to determine the benefit to the business. How much money will the company ultimately save by implementing your project? What will the increase in productivity be? Being able to identify the benefit to the company is crucial.

Once you have identified the benefit, you need to be able to communicate it. Avoid techno-jargon, all it will do is make your listeners eyes glaze over and cause them great confusion. Learn how to speak in terms the business understands. In order to learn the language of business, once per quarter read a book on business strategy. If you don’t have time for reading, consider an audio book. Unlike programming books, business books work well in audio format. Listen in on your Zune as you work out, drive to work, or do those household chores.

In order to communicate clearly, I would highly suggest the Toastmasters organization. Just think of them as a user group for speakers. Going through the program will help you learn to organize your thoughts in a clear and coherent manner.

Having a good understanding of business, in addition to technology, will help you succeed in the highly competitive marketplace of today.

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