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Technology For Small Business Owners.

June 4, 2019 / Comments Off on Technology For Small Business Owners.

Business-blockchain-technology

The-complexity-of-technology

Why On Earth Would A Small Business Entertain An Image Like This?

I had a coaching/mentoring call today with a lovely lady who has a very nice and well-established business.  Her goal is business growth and of course, she has come to the right person!!!

My job is to give the best advice first and foremost, but the question to ask is “what is the best advice”?

For me, it is the advice that I can give based only on my experiences – what I have personally been through both good and bad.  Finally, would I give the same advice to my children?

So with the above in mind and taking into account my sparkling and understanding personality, I spoke the truth and it did not go down well!

The subject was technology news and in particular, how she should look at her processes and procedures intimately and then work out what could be automated, rather than going on a people ‘hiring spree’ to simply help out with the day-to-day running of the business.

I wanted to help optimize the business and save money where possible, but ultimately improve the overall efficiency of the business strategies and if that meant taking on extra people, then so be it…but I wasn’t going to let technology off the hook yet!

Disruption

Take a look at cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Now please tell me how they are not going to change the face of the world that we live in today.

Artificial Intelligence is a ‘main driver’ of the world we live in today – just look at Alexa and Siri!

human-brain-AI

We are in an era of automation, whether we like it or not.  I am 55 years of age and have children ranging from 9 to 15 and I am proud to say that they shape my technology future – simply because they are immersed in it!

I can see clearly the day when they buy things from ‘obscure’ currencies (in relation to fiat money today) and I can also see the day when they are hailing a ride from a driverless car, whilst ordering the evening meal on the way and giving the robot that was supposed to clean the kitchen and extended stay in the closet!

Back to my mentoring call – I was trying to explain to the lady that it is not a matter of ‘if’, regarding technology advancement, but ‘when’.

Furthermore, I was explaining that while her client base is strong and made up of listed companies, those very same companies are investing heavily in the very same technology that I have just talked about.  What I further explained was that it would be better to talk to these companies in unison, with their technological advances, than to ignore them and hope that they don’t intervene with your business.

My point is simple – in today’s uncertain, volatile, and hyper-competitive market, you have to disrupt your industry and that means being more creative, rather than competitive.

In the context of this article, creativity means that companies will use technology to make business life easier – it’s that simple.

Smaller companies such as SME’s and start-ups are also hugely technology driven so it is not just for the affluent!

The advantage that smaller companies have is that they are far more agile than their publically listed counterparts and can rapidly adopt new technology.

Technology Or People

As a former owner of a staffing company, I am well aware of the need to employ people…but..as my sector was technology, I can fully see the need to automate repetitive processes and procedures.

Where therefore do I stand?

With both! And I follow logic – the market will always take us where we need to be and just as when we didn’t have washing machines or dryers, we coped without them.  But who would trade those products now in favor of performing the same tasks manually?

Mercedes-technology

You know the answer so there is no point in getting ‘bent out of shape’ when it comes to technological advances – just ‘go with the flow’.

Now my advice to everyone is to make sure that you are fully aware of the term Emotional Intelligence and I would suggest that everyone starts with making a list of their ‘soft skills.’

Back To The Reality

To my call once again and I was trying to explain that it is pointless to ‘fight’ what is going to happen and to try to embrace it as I was trying to elude to before.

When you have grown a business in an economy that you are comfortable with and then that economy changes in a heartbeat, you will undoubtedly suffer.

So the real trick here is to make sure that you always stay ahead of the game – if you know me, then you will hear me talk incessantly about having the mindset of a hedge fund manager and that means living at least six months ahead of your time!

In this manner, you are proactive and not reactive – I was trying to explain to my mentee, that she has to think ahead of the game and work in anticipation and not simply react to a need.

There is nothing worse to me, in talking to your client and asking them questions that you should already know the answers to.

As a former CEO, I would literally ‘shut down’, when people came to present to me and had no idea as to what my business really did and then bombarded me with questions that they could have easily found out the answers to!

Investing in technology requires a formula and only you know that formula…or maybe not!  If not, then talk to someone who can help you and it must be budgeted.

So get pro-active with technology!

My Story

Owning and running a technology staffing company did not make me an expert in technology – far from it.  It is only now when I am ‘outside’ of the business world, that I really have the time to ‘think back.’

One of the first investments I made was to hire someone who could actually advise me on how to cope with the technological advancements in my industry and at the time, we were just getting used to the ‘Internet experience’ and learning about Internet technology.

global-internet

Prior to this, I would seek knowledge from literally anyone who I thought could help me and I advise everyone to do the same.

I invested heavily in technology and always wanted to be at the ‘front of the pack.’

But…I didn’t always understand that being at the front of the pack was useless if the technology didn’t serve the purpose.

The Real Purpose Of Technology

…It is to serve your customers!

If what you do in any part of your business does not have an impact on your customer…then don’t do it.

Simple!

Don’t make the same mistake that I did and think that the technology-to-customer balance was over 50% in favor of myself versus the customer  (I must be a little kind to myself) and use technology to augment your ego!

OK, I will be truthful – more like 85%!

I wanted to showcase the fact that the technology I had and operated (latest mobile phones and laptops etc) was a representation of my success.

Don’t talk about the fact that I could only use the features that it had to a maximum of say 20% – I’m serious here and use it for the benefit of your customer:

Does the customer actually benefit from the technology that I have bought and deployed?

Summary

  • We are living in an ever-increasing technology-driven world
  • Large corporations are investing heavily in future technologies
  • Smaller companies may benefit more
  • The market will take you there anyway, in terms of technological advancement
  • Use technology to enhance your customer experience and not your own ego
  • Invest wisely and set a technology investment formula
  • Remember that we are in an AI-driven world

Now go and pour yourself a glass of nice red wine or whatever your tiple is and take action!

Until next time!

Neil Franklin

Neil Franklin-Entrepreneur

Last modified: May 29, 2020