Do you have a business that needs to adopt technology to move forward? Even some of the most technologically advanced businesses are constantly adopting new technologies just to stay ahead of the curve. Technology can actually hinder growth if you're adopting technology for technology's sake. In this article, I address the proper ways to go about adding technology to your business. You don't have to be scared to bring in the technology and help necessary to help your business succeed.
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I recently met a woman named Kim who has a small business running out of her home. She has been so successful that she's now looking to expand and is hoping to end up with three locations. That's her longer-term goal. We chatted about her web presence. She was looking for a web rebuild. I also suggested that she look into email marketing and adding G Suite for professional email and to serve as the software backbone of her business. (for more on G Suite and why I recommended it, check out my podcast/article on why businesses need G Suite.)
Kim signed up for marketing updates from me on Brandshouter.com and received my first automated email. In that email I ask the question: "What do you struggle with in your business?" Kim responded to my email to explain her struggles. She wrote, "I've conducted my business for the last 29 years using little or no technology. This is all very overwhelming and confusing to me. I need help understanding and utilizing all of the new options available to move my business forward."
Oftentimes those of us who are "techie" tend to forget that many people aren't up to speed with technology in the same way we are. In my case, I podcast, work on the web, etc. – technology just kind of comes naturally to me. This may not be true (and probably isn't true) for some of the people that would potentially hire me. That's why they're looking for help. That's why they're looking for a solution.
This isn't Kim. She also looks like she has the whole "Tech" thing down. Online marketing is partly creativity and bringing people to your site and partly figuring out how to get the technology to work together. Kim's email was basically a plea for help saying, "This technology stuff... I haven't needed it. But now that I'm growing I see that it can help make my business better, but it's overwhelming." That's why she reached out to me.
I responded to her and wrote, "Kim, thanks for the response. I totally understand technology can really change the way a business runs. This is usually a benefit but comes with the challenges of learning something completely new. If you've not been using it, it can be very daunting." Then I reached into my past a little here, "I spent 13 years running a web-based company for a gentleman that had a hard time with some of the basic email functions." Even simple things like attaching a file would stump him. While some may roll their eyes at that, I'm willing to bet there are a few people reading this who would agree attaching a file is not as straightforward as it sounds.
I continued, "That has taught me one big lesson: you don't have to be great at everything to be successful. As a matter of fact, you'll probably be pretty bad at some things and that's ok. Just ensure you have a team that can cover your weaknesses." So going back to my past life, the gentleman I worked for was extremely business savvy. He knew how to start a business and run a business. There were areas the business needed to function, like technology or maintenance of the machinery, that he didn't have any idea how to manage. If the machinery broke down, he didn't know how to fix it, but his role wasn't to fix it. His role wasn't to understand the technology. His role was to keep the company moving forward.
That was where I came in. He hired me to take over the day-to-day operations, specifically from a technology standpoint, but I also worked very closely with him for marketing and just about everything else. It's where a lot of the base of my knowledge started from. It's important to understand that you can be incredibly passionate about something without having to know all of the details to get it there. It's more important that you surround yourself with the right people to help with growth.
In my email to Kim I continued, "It's important to add technology that helps your business grow; not technology for the sake of technology." I am guilty of this – I love technology and I'm always adding technology for the sake of technology. If you're geeky enough, then it can be ok to do that. When technology's daunting and overwhelming to you, adding technology just to add technology is not worthwhile. It adds more confusion, and it doesn't actually help your business. It's important to identify the technology that you need.
Finishing my email I said, "It's easy to get lost in so many things when you only really need a couple. Based on our conversation a week or so ago, I don't think you need to add a bunch yet. As recommended, G Suite would be really beneficial (there will be a slight learning curve). I would also recommend looking into email marketing as it's low cost compared to other methods and allows you very specific contact with people who are interested." And then I ended with, "Don't feel overwhelmed. I'll always be a resource for you as you add new things or just have questions. Feel free to email, text or call me anytime and quick bits of advice are always on me."
Kim came to me with a problem: she was overwhelmed by technology. My response to her was basically: don't be. There are two big points here. First, get the right people behind you. Kim needs someone who can help her get through these hurdles of technology. Then she only needs to know what is important for her to run her business.
Then the second point that I try to make to her is don't just add technology because it's the thing to do. In Kim's business there are a few ways that I could see technology improving her business. For all of them, she should find an expert to handle the work for her. At some point she may want to start online advertising. She doesn't need to worry about advertising herself. Her responsibility should stop at knowing how to read a report.
I recommended that she probably should start email marketing. Once again, she doesn't need to know how to write an email. She can put some text on a document and mail it or type it in Microsoft Word and email it. This way she can have experts put it together and make it look right while setting it up for conversion.
I think the biggest problem that a business owner can have is getting stuck in the mundane day-to-day of various segments of their business that they could delegate. Remember, as a business owner, your biggest benefit to your business is figuring out how to continue to push your passion and inspire the people that work for you.
If you have a small business, you'll have a lot of the work fall on you but you should be striving to use any means necessary to take the detail work out of your court so you can further push your business. If you have a team and you're still relying on yourself to run everything, then you're hindering the growth of your business.