It has been 13 years since I wrote my first book, “The Girls’ Guide to Power and Success.” (Where does the time go?) My book was a precursor to “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. It focused on strategies to help women succeed in traditional career paths as well in their own businesses. One of the things I pointed was how important it was for women to embrace technology. Technology was a game-changer, giving women the power to do business around the globe from their spare bedroom. Plus, because technology is gender blind it helped level the playing.
While all of this remains true today, what I didn’t forsee 13 years ago is how technology would help women create entirely new types of businesses, manage their businesses on the go as well as juggle their business and personal life more efficiently.
This month is Women’s History Month so I thought it would be fun to take a look at just how technology is helping women succeed.
Dana Marlowe, principal partner of Accessibility Partners, LLC, located in Silver Spring, Maryland, manages a remote workforce of employees with disabilities around the country. She finds technology to be a great equalizer. The biggest asset for her team — cloud-based document collaboration solutions. “By downloading the accessible interface to our computers, phones, tablets and other devices, we don’t have multiple versions flying around,” says Marlowe.
The cloud-based system Marlowe uses automatically saves a number of earlier versions of documents. Team members can leave external comments on the document itself though the software’s messaging system. “This saves time on following lengthy e-mail chains. We have also been able to set up alerts for pertinent files to know when they have been changed or a new file has bee uploaded.” Marlowe notes that she feels the security for the cloud-based system is terrific, and it allows for the admin to determine which users have access to which files and folders.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, you may have heard of the architecturally inspired ice cream, Coolhaus. The company was launched in a covered mail truck purchased off of Craigslist in 2009 by CEO Natasha Case and a friend. Since then the company has grown from 1 truck in LA to multiple trucks in five cities attracting a celebrity following that includes Brad & Angelina, Johnny Depp and Will Ferrell.
It was social media that created the successful storyline for this start-up. “Coolhaus uses Instagram and other social media such as Facebook and Twitter for their trucks locations and to get feedback from their customers,” explains Case. “Coolhaus fans are able to post their favorite flavors and treats which allows the company to stay on top of what’s popular with their customers. Social media is an incredible management tool for this.”
“Stef and the City” owner Stef Saftran’s says she would not have been able grow her company as fast without the benefits of technology. “As a dating service that focuses on being social, technology has enabled use to reach out to more people than we could have in the past. We are able to utilize social media, email and blogs to connect with people and grow our business, “ she explains.
One of the most difficult challenges for women business owners is trying to balance their personal and professional life. Technology definitely makes combining those two worlds easier. Because you can run your business from your mobile devices, busy working moms or caretakers aren’t tethered to their desks. They don’t have to stress over missing an important client call or attending their child’s afternoon school play.
Dr. Laura Sankovich, owner of The Human Resources, uses an application called Boomerang when she is out of the office. “Boomerang allows you to schedule messages so even when I’m out of the office, and maybe want to attend one of my daughter’s events during the workday, clients are still receiving scheduled emails from me, keeping me engaged with them while they’re at work and I’m not, “ Sankovich says with a smile.
For me personally, balance is critical. Being able to comfortably work from my office, on the road or on vacation gives me a tremendous amount of comfort.
How do you employee technology to run your small business? How has your use of technology in your business changed over the past five years?