In some ways, business used to be so much easier. Growing up in Southern California in the 60s and 70s, I watched my dad grow a single small carpet store into one of the biggest in the state. “Technology” was probably a word he never used. He didn’t need to. “Marketing”? Sure. “Payroll”? You bet. But back then, a business person could do their thing without having to be a tech guru too.
No today, if you own a business, you not only own technology, sometimes it feels like technology owns you. But the good news is that same technology has opened up business in ways my sweet dad could have never imagined. I am confident he would have used the tools available now to grow that business even bigger, and sell carpet not just in California, but all over the world.
And this begs the question: Since technology is so much a part of our business life today, which tools are essential right now for small business? I’m not talking about the pretty new flavor of the month, nor am I talking about givens like computers and a wireless modem. No, these are the basic tech tools that are required to function properly today:
1. Video camera: While your site visitors expect to find video on your site, it is amazing how many small businesses still act like its 2001 and not 2011. You simply have to have video on your site.
And you don’t have to make a big deal of it either. Just get a camera, even just a Flip video, shoot some footage, use some simple software to edit it, and post it on your site.
2. Smartphones and other mobile technology: We all know how hot mobile technology is, but not all of us act like it’s as important as it really is. Is your staff using an Android, Blackberry, or iPhone (or similar), or are they still stuck with phones from a few years ago? Are their notebooks outdated? If they don’t have the right tools, they can’t do their best job. The available business apps alone make owning one of these babies de rigueur.
4. Security software: Consider the sad story about a group of dentists in Missouri. One morning they awoke to discover that more than $200,000 had been illegally transferred online out of their bank account. Even worse, because small businesses do not get the same protections as consumers who are the victim of online fraud, it was not covered by the bank. According to Brian Krebs, a journalist whose beat is online fraud, “Most companies that get hit with this type of fraud quickly figure out that their banks are under no legal obligation to reimburse them.”
How does this type of fraud occur? Usually, malware is planted on the victim’s computer, then the bad guys tap into the infected computer and access the online banking profile, and then use that information to transfer money.
Having the right security software prevents that.
5. Backup service: It surprises me to have this on the list, but the fact is ‘backing up your data’ is one of those things that people know is important but somehow still fail to do on a consistent basis.
It’s the flossing of the computer age.
Image credit: Andy McMillan