The thing about being in business for yourself these days is that it is not enough to simply be a good entrepreneur. Now you need to be incredibly tech savvy as well.
Yet, as one seasoned business professional recently mentioned to me, “small business people generally are late adopters.” Essentially, he meant that small business owners are so busy running their shop, they usually come late to change, especially technological change. That makes sense of course, but it is not always the wisest course. With technology becoming so important in our lives, businesses, and society, not using it to your advantage can be a big mistake.
Here are the most common tech mistakes that small business people make, and how to avoid them:
1. Looking small: Back in the day, everyone knew how big or small a particular small business was. That is not the case today. Sure, you may be a really small business offline, but if you do big work, you should look big. Online, you can look every bit as big as your biggest competitors.
So go ahead, and get that gorgeous new website, or update your dated website. It is easy and affordable. Using tools like Web.com, Wix.com, or Wordpress, you can get a beautiful, powerful website. While you are at it, give your business a robust social media presence too. If you make your online presence look as professional as you really are, no one ever needs know that you run your business out of your spare bedroom (unless you want them to!)
2. Not taking advantage of social media: Yes, we know you have a lot more important things to do than spend your time playing around on Facebook. However, social media is truly a revolutionary breakthrough for small businesses and it would behoove you to understand that and take advantage of it.
If you want to succeed in business, you have to go where your customers are. Nowadays that means on social media sites. Beyond that, social media costs you nothing but time, and while of course time is money, the fact that it does not actually take cash to use social media is pretty incredible. You would be hard-pressed to name another medium with such a low cost of entry.
Finally, social media is the word-of-mouth of today. When someone “Likes” your Facebook page, retweets you, or endorses you on LinkedIn, that is how they tell their friends about you.
3. Not taking advantage of the tech tools available: You probably don’t realize it, but large corporations spend an inordinate amount of time and money trying to understand and please you. Small business is actually big business to them, so they create all sorts of tools to sell to you to help you succeed.
Whether it is an online collaboration tool like WebEx or GoToMeeting, or accounting software like QuickBooks, or an app that allows you to do business on the go, the fact is, there are a lot of tech tools out there that can help you run your business better.
4. Not doing proper backups on your systems: You know the drill by now – back up, back up, back up! But do you? Many small business people still do not, or at least not regularly. It’s not a problem, until it is, and when that happens, it is a very big problem indeed. You can now schedule remote backups, so that means you have no excuse to not backup ever again.
5. Not having proper security software installed: According to McAfee, more than half of all computer crimes now are directed at small businesses because we are easy targets, and 60% of the time when a small business is hacked, the business ends up going out of business.
6 out of 10 times.
The solution is incredibly simple: Install a professional grade software security system. That will keep the bad guys out of your system. You lock your doors at the end of the day, don’t you? Well, now is the time to lock your system too.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.