entrepreneur technology

When it comes to technology small firms face at least two dilemmas; lack of expertise and lack of resources.  The self-employed, or those firms, with only a small workforce rarely have either the experience or the money to make the most of the new technology as it develops.  Alongside lack of expertise often comes lack of time to thoroughly explore the potential that new technology has to offer.  While most businesses are aware that technology is already a key driver in growth and expansion, many are also unable to find the resources to make the most of what is available.  In the rush to stay ahead of each wave of technological advancement, some businesses waste time and money on implementing new software and gadgets; while it is important to make the most of technology as it develops, it’s also crucial to be sure you need that technology.  Here’s two starting points to help evaluate new “stuff”, before you buy.

It Isn’t Broke Syndrome

Lacking time and cash to explore new technology, some businesses wheel this excuse out.  It’s fair enough, but sometimes “it” may be in good working order, but hopelessly slow.  With a system in place that works, it seems many of us don’t have the time to evaluate just how efficiently it is working, and if new technology can offer us any time or resource savings.  One good example of this is in the area of accounting software and bookkeeping functions.  Software to fulfil these tasks has been common for many years and some firms will have older systems in place.  We’re used to them, they work and all’s good, yes?  Cloud computing and online bookkeeping solutions have, however, appeared in the last few years that can cut the time and money spent on this essential, but often annoying, back office task.  For the self-employed, accounting is one of those tasks to add to the additional jobs list.  Long evenings and weekend overtime are often the result.  Online bookkeeping simply offers the opportunity to get these tasks out of the way, wherever and whenever you have the time, and it also means that the system you use can be used by your accountant.  Records can be made available to them online, saving time on visits and avoiding software conflicts.

Must Have Syndrome

Although there are a vast array of new gadgets appearing on the market every day (sometimes two or three times a day) there’s a danger that small firms can be swept away by the latest trends.  It’s new, it’s shiny and everyone has one.  It can also be a waste of money.  One little bit of technology that you already have access to can help to sift the good from the bad; the internet.  There’s a host of new social networking sites that are designed for businesses, while some of those that came off the Ark (Linked In, Twitter & Face Book) can be good places to ask questions.  Forums are a good place to find out if other firms of a similar size to yours have been seduced by the latest in shiny stuff and if it all worked out as well as they hoped.  The SME community is actually pretty chatty, and those running their own firms are surprisingly willing to share information.  This “user generated content” type of feedback is gold dust compared to all the sales material you’ll find on the net.  This is a bit like try before you buy, but somebody else has done the trying and buying for you.  The great advantage is that you can get a whole spectrum of views before taking the plunge with your latest bit of shiny kit.

The technology available to small businesses can help to put them on an equal footing with large firms; however, finding the right technology for each firm means making some well thought-out decisions.  From online bookkeeping software to the latest in shiny stuff, finding your way through the maze of what’s on offer needs to be planned carefully.