For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been on a nation-wide book tour for my new, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling book, “It’s You Biz: The Complete Guide to Becoming Your Own Boss.” As a result, I’ve talked with hundreds of small business owners and have listened to their concerns about growing their companies. A popular topic has been technology. Leveraging the right technology is critical for small business success. However, busy entrepreneurs often don’t have time to familiarize themselves with the latest and greatest, and as a result, they make wrong choices or none at all.
The right technology can increase a small businesses profitability and productivity. But an investment in technology that doesn’t fit your business needs or which is underutilized is a costly hit to your bottom line. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when investing in technology.
Failure to develop a technology vision. Most entrepreneurs understand the importance of creating a business plan, but few take time to create a technology plan. As a result, they jump from one system or application to another with no clear understanding of the true benefits of the technology. A lack of strategy causes frustration, impacts your efficiency and increases your costs. Technology experts say that reworks often add as much as 30 percent to a project costs. A technology vision allows you to evolve from a reactive approach to a proactive one resulting in cost savings and greater productivity.
Buying “leading edge” rather than best fit. The latest and greatest technology on the market might be impressive, but it may not be what your business needs. Purchasing the newest systems often results in a lot of unused capacity. Remember, technology becomes dated very quickly. Make a list of exactly what you want technology to do for your business, then do your homework. A good vendor will serve as a consultant to help you make the best choices.
Assuming everything will work together. In a data-intensive world, mapping out the right combination of tools is essential. Although many technologies are compatible today, you can’t assume they will all easily talk to one another. Not everything is plug and play.
Failure to establish a budget. As a business owner you need to determine what you’d be comfortable spending on technology, then do some research. You may want to hire an outside IT consultant to help you determine what type of budget is realistic for your objectives. Without a budget number in mind, you may find yourself running out of money before you’ve build the technology platform you need.
Failure to Provide Support and Training. Investing in technology is great, but if no one in your company knows how to use it, then your investment goes down the drain. Make sure you include the necessary training and support when you build your technology infrastructure. Check with the vendor to see if they provide free training and on-going assistance before you buy.
Failure to Get Your Team On Board. Before you make an investment in technology, discuss it with the employees who will actually be using the systems. Find out what their thoughts and concerns are and make them a part of the process. If you dump it on them without any input, you might find yourself fighting to get them to use it.
If you can put all the pieces in place, technology can transform your business operations. Developing a well-thought out technology plan will allow you to boost performance and profits through the maximum utilization of your investment.