Websites, social media, search engines, tablets, SEM, email marketing, the cloud; I could go on and on. The point is that when it comes to running and marketing a business in a digital world there is a great deal of information, technology and marketing to keep up with. We’re a firm focused on the digital landscape and every day someone on my team shares something new with me. We are actively looking to know what’s changing, but unless your core business is similar to mine, it’s not easy to keep up.
The fact is we live in a world exploding with technology, and technology changes frequently. How do you as a small business owner learn to adapt without getting overwhelmed or frustrated? Here are a few tips to help you stay focused.
Create a Tech-Inventory & Audit
What tech do you use to run your business, from the desktop to the cloud? Just yesterday my CFO asked me about a charge on our credit card regarding to a tech tool we no longer use. Many of us forget what tech tools we have and what we use them for. Start by creating a table like this one and begin identifying all the technologies you use, breaking the list down by type and purpose. Start with what you use each and every day and then check your credit card statements to see if you signed up for something you may not be using. It happens to all of us.
|HootSuite||Web / Cloud Account||Manage social media accounts for clients||Monthly Fee|
|Dropbox||Cloud Storage & File Sharing||Team account to allow for collaboration and sharing of files||Monthly Fee|
|Evernote||App||Organize my ideas and share||Free|
Notice my list includes a free app. Putting everything on your list will make it easier to keep track of tools if something happens to your computer. I further recommend you add all of your social networks, marketing tools and cloud accounts. Anything you use for running or marketing your organization, add it to the list – including add-ons to your company website.
Having a list of tools you can refer to makes it easy for team members to check on updates or changes. You can make it a policy to check release notes or updates on the tools quarterly.
Follow, Like or Subscribe
Let’s face it companies today understand the importance of communication. From free to paid applications, vendors want you to be in-the-know about updates and changes. Today many of the tools you use provide you with the opportunity to subscribe to an email or follow them on social tools like Twitter, Facebook or Google+. Make a point to follow these tools and pay attention to notices about tech changes.
Take this a step further when it comes to other technology that may be out of your control like the Google algorithm. Identify experts that you respect and can give you insight into what’s coming in other areas. If you’re in a unique field, find industry-specific experts who may share updates related to policy or compliance changes.
Be proactive and work with partners who have the same mentality as you do. If your company engages with an outside firm for web or IT services, schedule a check-up call with them quarterly to discuss changes on the horizon and how to be prepared. Use this as an opportunity to review updates, pitfalls, and strategies to budget for changes.
Don’t Avoid It, Embrace It
You do not have to be a technology expert, but the fact is we all use technology to run our businesses today. To be successful, especially as a small business, we need to stay with or ahead of the curve. This means knowing what technologies you have, and what changes you need to be prepared to implement. Creating a system and having a support staff of internal and external partners will help you get organized and keep you on top of technology changes.