Starting a Business? Why You Need to Know Technology
Of all the fundamentals that entrepreneurs need to know to succeed, technology provides the most new opportunity and the most constant change. Computer literacy is not an option, it’s an absolute necessity. Every business needs a website in the same way every business needed to be listed in the Yellow Pages 25 years ago. The marketing opportunities on the world wide web must be understood and evaluated to ensure the best decisions for your venture. The technological tools and capabilities available to small business are expanding every day, and only those entrepreneurs savvy enough to keep up are going to survive and thrive in the new economy.
You Need a Computer
The ability to use a computer is pretty much a given these days, though there is the rare entrepreneur who is still uncomfortable with the idea. The advent of the internet makes most things much easier, from conducting industry and competitor research to keeping in touch with your customer base. Excellent accounting system and contact management software decrease the time spent on these non-core competencies while simultaneously making related data more accessible and useful than the old ledger books and rolodexes ever could. Email is the preferred form of communication for many, from vendors to customers, so current business owners need to be prepared.
Your Business Needs a Website
A website for your business is an absolute necessity. Whether a simple 3 to 5 page business card site or a full-blown ecommerce store, having a web presence is no longer a luxury, it’s a must. What you need depends on your industry and business model, but failing to represent your business online is likely to become a fatal mistake. However, simply posting a website is not enough. Doing so without performing the appropriate SEO (search engine optimization) is pointless. It is akin to placing a billboard on Mars — if nobody sees it, it might as well not exist. Effective SEO tactics are not particularly complicated, but they take some time and research to ensure you are making the best use of your time.
Get Involved with Social Networking
Social networking is the new frontier for marketing a business. It’s hard to say whether that will continue or if and when consumers will become immune to the constant barrage of messages, but for now it is essential to exploit the opportunities available on these social websites. The contacts you gather through your activity on social sites and from opt-in mailing lists from your own site provide excellent direct marketing opportunities. Email newsletters and promotions are extremely effective, and cost you only a bit of time and effort. Email blasts to your customer base keep your company in mind. Even if they don’t open all of them, they are repeatedly exposed to the business name, a psychologically important outcome!
Consider a Smart Phone
In addition to basic computer operations and internet opportunities, the newest technologies can help entrepreneurs stay organized and manage their time more effectively. Smart phones are not just for twenty-somethings – every entrepreneur should consider investing in one. They can be used to keep up with email and phone calls, sure, but they can also supply your accounting, inventory, employee schedule, and other obligations at your fingertips. They have internet access, GPS systems, cameras, and thousands of applications available to fulfill just about any need for entrepreneurs. They are a bit more expensive than a standard cell phone and much more than a landline, but if used effectively they are worth every penny in the time and stress they can relieve.
Use Technology to Your Benefit
No matter what type of business you are launching, the available technology will play an important role in the success of your venture. It is important for every entrepreneur to be more than familiar with the tools that are out there and how they can support and promote your business. The constantly changing face of technology notwithstanding, the success of small business is intricately tied to an entrepreneur’s ability to use what is available now and to stay abreast of the opportunities in technology as they come along.