After returning from one of the greatest tech shows in the world, the Consumer Electronics Show (a.k.a. CES), I continue to be amazed at the speed of innovation.
Technology advancements are making devices more user-friendly, functional, intuitive and portable. In our on-demand world, electronic devices and a seemingly endless number of apps (or applications) are enabling us to be more efficient in all aspects of life…which includes running a business.
The relationship between technology and small business is an important one. A small business owner with a general understanding of the linkages between broadband services, connected devices, security applications and related technologies is far better equipped and has a more competitive edge than those who choose to ignore or are intimidated by technology.
Case in point: I was a panelist on a technology panel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Summit in 2008 to emphasize to attendees that technology provides growth opportunities to small business. During the panel session, I asked the audience if they had a website or online presence, hoping every single small business owner would indicate they did by raising their hands. I was stunned to find some attendees didn’t have one. I vividly recall one gentleman who explained that he was not a tech wiz and thought it was very expensive to have a website, thus he chose to not even research the associated costs. This is unfortunate.
The online space is another channel – and rapidly become the most important one – to cultivate business leads, engage with existing and potential customers. Had this small business owner done a little research, he could have gotten his business online and found. The initial cost for purchasing a basic website domain with web hosting ranges from the very little on the low end to a full range of bells and whistle on the high end.
Of course, today, most broadband service providers, like Verizon, provide the website domain name, web hosting, security, collaboration services and more to small and midsized businesses.
Bottom line, small business owners have a significant number of tech resources at their disposal, but they must be willing to consistently learn and evaluate how they can be integrated into their business. By leveraging technology you may be able to cut costs while running your business more efficiently.
For instance, if you are a business that still uses dial-up (as many still do) that connects to your credit card processing terminal; increasing the speed of your broadband will shave seconds off the processing time. Seconds may not seem significant, but when you have a line of customers at your shop, you want to provide the best service and that’s getting their transactions processed ASAP… now, do you really want your customers to get antsy with the long wait?
Also, consider whether cloud computing services are right for your business – why house a server at your shop where it takes up space, needs maintenance and can quickly become outdated when you can “house” your data in the cloud and it’s available when you need it?
Consumer demands and tastes are constantly evolving in our “here today, gone tomorrow” world. Small businesses that are aware of the latest technology capabilities in the marketplace are best positioned to respond to customers and pursue new opportunities. Most importantly, businesses that embrace technology have a better competitive edge.
Technology is a friend of small business. Embrace it, or risk being “unliked” by your customers. What is your tech experience?
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