By Michael Cebulski
Dec. 17, 2009
Not too long ago. Hollywood thought we would be on our second “Space Odyssey” in the film 2010. Those predictions, of course, did not pan out, but one thing has certainly changed since sci-fi fans packed the box office to see the movie entitled with next year’s date - technology has impacted all of our lives in ways we never expected. For small business, that means that you literally cannot succeed until you can effectively use technology.
I understand that for most entrepreneurs, that is easier said than done. So, I offer, for 2010, a short list of New Year’s resolutions to help you keep up with the fast-changing technology that can often define success in business.
Once upon a time, when you opened up your storefront, you would only have an opportunity to sell your wares to customers in your neighborhood. Now, the world is your neighborhood.
One entrepreneur, who works out of her house in Oakland County, told me she routinely sells her high-tech product to buyers from multiple countries in a single day. This year, consider how you may have the opportunity to do the same. It is all about thinking differently and globally. The technology inside your business may be able to bring the world to your inbox.
Focus On The Web
It is amazing how many small businesses I still encounter that do not have a Web site. Frankly, that is not acceptable in the way business is done in the modern age. Your Web site is your front door, your lobby and your initial pitch - all rolled into one. It helps you define your business and your brand to potential customers and enables you to interact with your current customers on an ongoing basis.
Think about this - the simple act of ordering a pizza has been transformed by the Web. Domino’s recently told the Wall Street Journal that 20 percent of its orders are now online and they expect that number to climb. What could a more aggressive Web presence mean to your business?
It doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, some Internet Service Providers offer free setup, hosting and support for small business Web sites. Make sure yours does before you consider whether to continue doing business with them.
Make Sure You Have The Bandwidth
No matter your business, the ability to send and receive rich online content is more important than ever. Make sure your business has the bandwidth and speed to be able to handle what your customers expect.
You need high speed and capacity for large files to market your business and send and receive information while communicating with customers and suppliers. Also, you want the ability to get information and respond to it quicker, to aid in your productivity.
Additionally, if you are thinking about a meaningful presence on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, you will need the ability to access links quickly and post video and other multimedia content.
Choose The Right Software
When considering bells and whistles, make sure you have the right ones. Think about whether your software fits the size of your business.
Software packages such as Outlook and Sharepoint can help small businesses connect employee groups and collaborators and are generally easy to use. Again, your service provider should be able to help you gain access to software that’s right for your business.
Lower Your Technology Costs
Technology is one part of your business where you really can do more with less. As it improves, costs tend to go down. That is important to keep in mind as you evaluate your costs this year.
Take an opportunity this year to review your technology spending. If you are using the right provider, you should actually be able to have more technology available to you for less money.
Technology does not have to rank among the most challenging aspects of your business. By adopting these resolutions, you can help make sure your technology delivers profits, not pain.
Michael Cebulski is vice president Comcast Business Services-Michigan Region. E-mail him anytime with your small business technology questions at [email protected].