Like it or not, technology unites us all. And I don’t mean through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or another application. I mean on the anxiety scale: From Luddites to Techno-files, we share a common anxiety that is rooted in complete frustration and withdrawal on one end, the constant fear of missing out on the other end, or somewhere in between. Now comes the news that approximately 40% of all Internet activity is mobile – smart phones, tablets, etc. In other words, you can no longer assume that your customers are looking at/for your business on a laptop or desktop computer. In an era where the pace of change is not only rapid, but also unknowable, how can you possibly technology-proof your business?
As the Regional Manager of the NH Small Business Development Center in the Monadnock Region, I am privileged to work with a wide variety of small businesses every day. Often, our conversations about technology revolve around buzzwords like “social media” or “search engine optimization.” While these can be fundamental from a marketing and visibility standpoint, I also work with clients to master a few foundational technology concepts that ultimately determine the success of these strategies, and while nothing can completely technology-proof a business, these skills can help to ensure that you’ll always be moving in the right direction.
First is maximizing the use of available technologies to make your business more efficient. One example is Square, which allows retailers and service providers to accept credit card payments anywhere, instantly increasing your selling footprint! Further, software and cloud-based applications can benefit clients looking for help with everything from accounting (QuickBooks, for example, now has an online application that can be accessed instantly by a bookkeeper or CPA), to customer relationship management. And some of this software is available for free or at a very low cost. You might look at an online resource such as CNet for reviews of different software packages for businesses.
Second is helping your customers to find you. Social media and a web presence are certainly important here, but many businesses overlook the importance of ensuring that your business is properly represented in search engine results. Many clients have inaccuracies in their address, business contact information, or hours of operation when customers search for them on Google, Yelp, Yahoo Business, or some other service. It is simple to correct this, as most have a link to “claim” your business. After filling in your contact information and verifying that you are the owner (and not a competitor), you can instantly help people to find you faster.
Third is basic online research. While one can earn a doctorate in research, a basic suite of online research skills (often complemented with offline research), such as how to properly use keywords and search engines, can help you to keep up to date on your competition, industry trends, pricing, and local and national events that may impact your business and your customers. And yes, online research is also critical to finding…new technology that can help your business!
If you want to work on any of these topics specifically as they relate to your business, please don’t hesitate to contact Rich at 603-358-2602, or firstname.lastname@example.org. The NH Small Business Development Center’s Keene office is located at Keene State College, and Rich offers no-cost, confidential business advising to start-ups and existing businesses full time from the SBDC office at Keene State College, and at the Hannah Grimes Center every Monday. SBDC works with clients on business plans, financial analysis, access to capital, marketing, and many other business-related issues.