This is a guest post from Robert
There have been various studies conducted in recent years that have looked at the relationships that small businesses have with technology. The findings have varied depending on the objectives of each study, but there have been a number of common trends in all of them.
What are they?
- Small businesses are often held back by a lack of investment into technology
- Small businesses can fail to understand the benefits that technology can bring
- When investment is made, small businesses often look at the wrong products or services, and don’t ‘shop around’ before making a financial commitment
Clearly, these all have the power to have a huge impact on a business, no matter what category you fall into. However, these are merely the headlines, and mask in many ways what the reality is when you dig down deeper into small business and technology.
What are the main areas that small businesses should focus on if they’re looking to resolve the three points above?
Training and Education
It is difficult to escape the feeling that lack of knowledge feeds everything when it comes to technology and small businesses.
- In terms of making decisions around which technology to use, businesses are guilty of not knowing enough about the products and services available
- When they purchase a product, they are often culpable of not harnessing it correctly, or understanding the full range of functions it has
- Businesses will often neglect to dedicate time and resources to training people within their company. Training five to ten employees in a small company how to use an interface or web platform won’t take too long, for example, but the rewards could be huge in the long term.
Training and education is a problem all across this relationship. If the knowledge gaps were closed, more businesses would make better decisions, buy the right products, and dedicate the requisite resources to making them work for them.
How Do You Measure Success?
What is technology to a business, and how does it make a difference?
That is a question too few business owners ask themselves. Measuring how effective technology is, in terms of ROI, is not an easy thing to do, but it is imperative to find a way.
Our suggestion would be to treat a technology product like it’s a human employee. What are its objectives, how much money should it be earning for you, and does it deliver against these?
If you use mobile applications, how much money do they save you in terms of using an accountant for financial reports, or what is the time saving in terms of doing it yourself?
Viewing technology this way will help you to understand the benefits of your products and whether they are worth persisting with.
It is Easy to Stand Still
Once you have invested in a technology product or service, it is easy to think, “Great, we’ve done it.”
However, as you will likely need to make some changes within your business in order to grow and move forward, the same is true for technology. By continuing to innovate in terms of the products and services you use, you will start to learn more and enjoy even bigger benefits.
The key here will be ensuring you balance the desire to innovate against how much you’re looking to spend.
Opening up to Technology
Small businesses need to use technology, and should be open to different products and services at all times. The continuing use of these will depend on how much money can be committed to using them, and how you embrace the learning opportunities they bring.
A failure to embrace technology will have a negative influence on your business, yet it is important that you manage the relationship on your terms.