Last week I was at a meeting with a group of entrepreneurs from all over the world. These folks are some of the best of the best in the world at their businesses - across industries and continents. When my turn came to talk about The Connected Market Space and our recent launch of 1to1Real as a "solution for the SMB [Small to Medium Sized Business] Technology Tangle" they all listened with increasing enthusiasm and interest.
After a few minutes, one of the leaders said, "why don"t you just talk about the top 10 things that business owners hate about technology? If you can solve that, you're done!"
Great idea! So I rapidly scribbled down what I've spent the last decade trying to solve by building 1to1Real and the Connected Market Space. Once I decided to write them down, I thought it would be a great idea to write about each one in my blog. So, here you go - a series I'm going to write about each of what I find to be some of the most frustrating problems with technology.
Starting with #10:
"Technology is costing me a ton of money! If I get quotes, they are high. If I employ someone, I have to pay them a ton and don"t have a clue what they are doing! How will technology ever make me money?"
The reality is that the technology industry was built on costing a lot of money. Hordes of software engineers, consultants and development companies have spent decades perfecting the model of getting paid for writing code. They charge a lot for their work and for good reason - it's hard to do and time consuming.
As a business owner, and a tech CEO, I have troubled over this. The reality is technology is highly valuable ONLY when it is properly developed and deployed. So, I asked myself "how can we solve the technology risk problem, the time problem and the related cost problem for small to medium sized businesses?" After all, these aren't governments or major corporations. These are businesses that provide a product or service to a market, they do it well and by their own successes they grow - which causes inefficiencies. Businesses like this don't have unlimited time to focus on technology, or unlimited resources they can acquire by raising taxes or the price of a widely distributed product a few dollars.
So, let's turn the question into an answer:How can I use technology to make money - without hiring a bunch of technology people where I don't know what they do, or asking for a bunch of quotes that I don't know that are fair - without spending a ton of money?
When approached like this, the answer becomes obvious. Focus on your core business and find a way to get that to extend in 30 days or less. Clue number one: if it takes more than 30 days to get your core business out the door, you're headed for a trap!
If you're in a business that is not technology based, don't get into the technology business by hiring or funding a huge undertaking! Doing that is costly, time consuming and worst of all, it takes your attention away from your core business. People in the technology business are technology experts. We don't know your business, but we do know ours. So let us take the risk that applies to our business - technology, and provide the value to you. After all, if I'm going to buy a car, I'm not going to start my own production line. I'm going to find the vehicle brand I trust and I'm going to
Too many business owners try to become technology companies in house, and end up with a disappointing result. The people who succeed in business seek out professionals to do what they can't, so they can focus on what they can do - provide their product or service to their market. After a decade in the business I can say with certainty, the businesses who elect to find the right solution and the right professionals, who have worked with us and ask us to help do what they can't, win every time.
The businesses who try cobble together a bunch of technology pieces like CRM and email marketing are spending money trying to create a solution outside their area of expertise. Or, worse, they've created a home grown monster â€“ complete with a home built team that must be employed 24/7 just to keep going. Â Money that could be driving a market and profits for the business owner is instead being wasted on something that doesn't actually improve the core business.
Tim's Tip #10: The moral of the story is solve technology frustration #10 by putting your money where your business model is - STOP accepting the technology risk at home.
Picture: Eric (e-magic), Flickr