Sounds good Mark. One thing, at least you're actually doing something rather than just talking about it. So cheers to doing something.
A few resources, and blogs, which might be helpful for getting up to speed, and maybe this is helpful for others, so I'll get my ramble on, and throw it out there.
1. Activate/ use Google Reader. It allows you to "subscribe" (via RSS) to news and keep all your news sources in one place.
2. If you have an iPad I would highly recommend downloading an app like Reeder. This allows you to import all the blog and news subscriptions you track into an elegant, trackable easy to read format.
3. Sign up for Instapaper. This gives you the ability to "bookmark", and read later, articles that you intend to take action on within your business.
This combination allows me to track, skim, and gain actionable insights for my businesses from over three hundred news sources. These sources range from science blogs, technology blogs, marketing blogs, photography sites, and design blogs, and on, and on.
It takes me 30 - 60 minutes in the morning to get my skim on. You can grab your coffee and just get this done.
If you're not constantly staying on top of developments in this business, you're not in the game. That's all there is to it.
A few other news resources:
Techmeme is my homepage, and has been for over 5 years. They aggregate news from lots of different mainstream and tech blogs, and display what matters. It's one "discovery tool" I use.
Another is HackerNews, which is similar and something I check religiously.
I also am active in a lot of other forums where I gain information, which is relevant to my businesses. Some are paid forums. Also, this allows you to network, identify partners, and gain some needed mentorship for scaling your business. Find your peers, and form accountability partnerships to keep you on track.
I honestly believe having an information consumption strategy is a must for any business owner, and it's especially a must for anyone playing the online game.
Also, the beauty of an information consumption strategy is that if you find something that is relevant to a client or prospect you can "share" that information with them.
Sharing is much better than badgering someone with "hey, hey, did you get my proposal??". They received it. Every business exchange should contain a seed of value. Sharing high value, relevant information is a good way to plant those seeds.
Lastly on this point, it becomes fodder for your social strategy and helps you discovery, and "get the goods" that matter to the audience you're serving.
Of course, skimming and reading isn't enough, you must determine what is actionable (if anything), take notes and integrate that into your process. Obviously sometimes you're just feeding your mind, shaping your mental models as an entrepreneur.
Anyhow, for the action part I use Evernote. This is a note taking system that allows you to take notes on your computer, smartphone, and tablet device. These notes can be "web clippings" of a particular insight, text, audio or image notes. You can create different notebooks for your business research and all your notes are stored in the cloud, synched and accessible on any device.
It's a brilliant tool I use everyday.
Here are a few decent blogs on design to get you started:
Smashing Magazine - while they also cover social marketing, they dig into design in a thoughtful way.
Speckyboy - here you will find some technical information, design info, and design inspiration.
Dribbble - this is where designers go to share what they're working on. There is some amazing work on there.
Copyblogger - this is a good place to start wrapping your head around what to write about, the voice of how you write, and how to effectively communicate with your prospects.
Chris Brogan - he puts the folks in folksy, while a bit basic, and the equivalent of the Tony Robbins of social media, I think this is another good starting point. Sign up for the free newsletter on there.
ProBlogger - another good resource for marketing and copywriting information.
If you're interested in the tech startup game, here are a few of the old standbys:
Techcrunch - it used to be a lot better. No longer the leader in tech news they were, but still worth checking.
PandoDaily - a new comer in this world. I'm digging the writing on here.
Mixergy - I love this site. The site owner, Andrew Warner has interviewed over 700 startup founders who share their successes and failures in a podcast format. Put this on when you're tired of listening to music and need some inspiration. Keep evernote open and take notes.
One last thing on getting up to business speed.
If you were only going to read two business books in your life read these two:
Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant
At its core this is a book about differentiation. How do you differentiate your business, your products and services. To me this is the essence of business, and the book provides many stories of differentiation (creating new markets), and a quantitative framework for developing a differentiation strategy for your business.
The second book is this:
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
Persuasion, asking people to change a behavior, to do or buy something is at the core of any business. This is the ultimate book on influence.
Alrighty, over and out.