Put Technology to Work for You, Not the Other Way Around
You are working on your dream. You are growing a company around your passion. You have a vision for the future unlike anyone else. You are a risk taker. A dreamer. You have taken a leap, that most of us won’t. But its tough out there. So many choices. So many voices. So many decisions to make. And technology — yeesh — that's complicated. I don’t have time for that — I need to focus on growing my business.
Talking to growing companies around the globe, I am seeing three thematic pieces of feedback from entrepreneurs. Does this sound familiar? Agree? Disagree? What else?
1. The Pace of Change and Innovation is Accelerating More Now than Ever in our History
2. The Line Between Sales and Marketing Continues to Blur
3. Customers Expect More
Pace of Change Breeds Opportunity. A cool Silicon Valley buzzword is disruption a fancy way of saying change now or be changed later.
Whitney Johnson wrote a great book, that has recently been rereleased called “Disrupt Yourself,” which I highly recommend. The notion is you should be in charge of your change posture before someone else does. Think of the taxi industry being throttled by Uber; think of Netflix and streaming eviscerating Blockbuster video.
Democratization of Technology is another one of those cool Silicon Valley buzzy concepts. The essence is entirely true. We all have access to the exact same technology as Fortune 100 companies now. Cloud computing allows us to spin up a rack of 100 servers in seconds at metered pricing, something that a small or mid sized company could have never done in the past. Ubiquitous access to information via search gives a small Etsy storefront an ability to sell around the world in moments instead of potentially years.
Take Charge of Technology and Put it to Work for You
- The Cloud — you can now have a datacenter at your fingertips. The same public clouds you have access to (AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure) are the same that Fortune 500 companies use.
- The Internet — the ultimate democratizer for business. Understanding how to put the web to work for you and your business, starts with a terrific web experience on your site and can be extended via keywords and search engine monetization.
- Wi-Fi — I often jokingly refer to this as the next level of on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, but its often true these days. Our digital lives require constant connectivity. And for your business its critical to run those cloud apps and services to power your growing business.
Sales is Marketing, Marketing is Sales, its all the same now. The old days of marketing and sales sitting on opposite sides of the room talking about how neither one works hard is over. Your customer doesn’t care about who’s department they are being engaged by. They want to find products and services in search, they want to educate themselves online, they want to see testimonials from other customers. Then they may want to talk to a salesperson; or maybe they don’t. Maybe they want to buy it themselves and suss out how to use the product on their own; or later ask their trusted local partner.
Entrepreneurs don’t care about org charts. Yvonne Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia famously said, “if you want to understand an entrepreneur, look at juvenile delinquents. The juvenile looks at the world and says ‘this sucks’ I am going to do it my way.” This is your competitive advantage. You may not have time or money to hire both a new marketing person, and a new sales person — so don’t. Hire someone who can play both roles equally well and focus them on “meeting the customer where they are” most often digitally first.
Customer Expect More. The understatement of the century.
We expect a shiny black clean car to appear at the push of the button to take us wherever we want, whenever we want. We expect South Indian dosa to appear on our doorstep from our favorite restaurant 11 miles away in less than 23 minutes. We expect free shipping. 24x7 customer service, instant response, click to chat. We demand Wi-Fi everywhere! We expect a lot as customers.
Lean in. Build from today forward with those expectations. Legacy and established companies have monolithic processes and structures to manage an old world business. They aren’t agile. They aren’t digital first. They need to protect their old business, while building a new one. But not you. You are all about the future, not the past. About growth. About the customer. Put the customer’s modern needs at the forefront of your business.
- Always on Always Available — check with technology you can have a modern 24x7 business up and running quickly using technology to extend yourself to meet the customer, when they are ready to engage.
- Always Digital — everything you do is already in the cloud, online, searchable, scalable.
- Everywhere — your customer likes to buy sometimes from brick and mortar, sometimes online, sometimes via a partner — be in all of those places using technology as your competitive advantage.
You got this! Its your time to grow. Lean in. Put technology to work for you. Leapfrog the competition. Now is the time!