This is one of a series of articles looking at positive mindsets for a positive future. Over the next few weeks I am exploring some of the most frequent questions I get asked as a business coach and focus on both the challenges and opportunities each one presents.
No-one starts their own business thinking it will be easy. There will be many challenges along the way. Very often the difference between business success and failure will depend entirely on how you approach those challenges and reframe them into opportunities.
Today my focus is another topic that leads to lots of questions and comments – technology and innovation.
The Collins English Dictionary describes Technology as referring to methods, systems, and devices which are the result of scientific knowledge being used for practical purposes, especially in industry.
Technology itself is far from new although today the rapid changes in computer led technological advances do focus the mind somewhat and sometimes we can forget about less glamorous and more simple technologies that have been with us a long time.
The key words in the above definition are ‘for practical purposes’. As business owners, especially of SMEs, our sole interest in technology must be to focus on how it can practically help us achieve our business goals quicker, smarter and more profitably.
There are a number of challenges to consider:
Where do we start – there are a mind-numbing array of technological developments that all claim to be able to help us take our businesses to the next level. Talk to other people, especially to other business owners; attend networking functions with your local business group or Chamber of Commerce; keep an eye out for seminars or workshops on specific technological developments; read articles in the press or online. Whatever you do, do not bury your head in the sand – there is likely to be some technology out there that will be of great benefit to your business. You will only find it by actively looking!!
Technology belongs to younger people – I won’t understand it! Nonsense!! As the old saying goes, if you think you can do something or think you can’t do something you will be right! The key is to keep your focus on your business goal, on the reason you are in business and let that dictate what technologies you should or should not explore. Take care not to be limited by your own mindsets.
New technologies are bound to be expensive! Some technologies certainly are expensive but there are plenty that aren’t! if you want to invest in a new piece of software for example, talk to others, see what offers are available to small businesses, is it possible to share costs with others, can you invest in stages, are there cheaper alternatives on the market that will do the job just as well?
Planning before action!! Investing in new technology needs to be part of a robust planning process. In previous articles I have talked about planning as being the way to do business – an on-going process of exploration and discovery. If you invest in costly new technology without proper robust planning, then you only have yourselves to blame if something goes wrong or if the technology does not turn out to be as useful as you had hoped. New technologies are business tools and not all tools do all jobs – you want the right tools in your toolbox that will help you achieve your goals and, when you get them, you need to know how to use them.
We don’t take the time to learn! Most of us are familiar with outlook as a tool probably in regular use on our laptops or computers but I wonder how many of us have ever fully explored what it can do. The same will be true for any new technology – time invested earlier on will almost certainly be time saved at a later date.
We fall for the marketing hype! Many new technologies are attractively packaged. Remember if they make claims that sound too good to be true then they probably are! Don’t buy anything new without first satisfying yourself that it is exactly what you are looking for and that it will do the job. If you can’t get your questions answered satisfactorily then walk away and search for an alternative.
We are using tools to grow our businesses today that most of us had never dreamed about 10-15 years ago and we know that the speed of technological advance is getting faster and faster. Burying our heads in the sand is not a strategy for growth. The planned and sensible adoption of new technology is. If you are nervous or unsure, then seek help - approach your mentor or another business or a business advisor. No-one will mind and the simple act of asking for help might make all the difference between real progress and costly mistakes.
If you need help with your own technological plans or you want some feedback on your own practices, then please get in touch.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. As always, please contact me if you have an interesting story to tell and are happy for it to be told. More challenges and opportunities next week.
Breadfruit Consulting (www.breadfruitconsulting.com) is a Vanuatu-based business providing advice, training, coaching, and mentoring to businesses throughout the Pacific islands. Breadfruit specialises in a range of business development activities including ‘business continuity planning and action’, helping businesses to survive in a crisis, designing and starting new, sustainable businesses. Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Founding partner at Breadfruit Consulting.