It’s not easy to run a business. First, you’ve got to figure everything out from formulating a business plan to raising funds to building the infrastructure. Next, you’ve got to form sustainable partnerships, build a motivated team, and win customers over. Finally, you’ve got to deal with one unexpected setback after another, including overcoming financial losses and bucking the tide of larger economic events.
As a result of these difficulties among others, the survival rate is understandably low. If you look at the dismal SBA statistics for small business success rates, says USA Today, you’re likely to conclude that half of the number of people who open a new business today will close their doors within the coming five years. Moreover, only a third of these survivors will make it to their 10 year anniversary.
Despite the romantic business stories you may have heard about how Michael Dell started his computer business from a dorm room, how Carl Junior created his hamburger empire starting with a hot-dog stand, and how Steve Jobs had to use his parent’s garage to launch Apple Computers, few small businesses ever grow large enough to become legendary.
Is there a way to succeed in your small business despite these historical and statistical low survival rates? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. You do have one entrepreneurial superpower that you may be under-utilizing —your ability to leverage the productivity-boosting, cost-saving power of technology. From learning video conferencing to finding a hosted PBX provider, things can start getting easier and easier for your small business. Since these technologies are scalable, you’ll probably still be relying on them even when you do become a big business.
Why technology is underestimated
If technology is the answer to the high failure rate, the missing variable in the success equation, then why isn’t it being more widely used by small businesses everywhere? It’s actually due to a sociological issue, specifically a generation gap. Many Baby Boomers grew up in a pre-Internet world and have never fully adopted technology. Consequently, when they start a new business, they don’t think of technology as anything more than a few desktops and a LAN. Although Millennials appear to have embraced technology, the majority only do so at a superficial level—they only know how to use everyday telecommunication technology, but only a minority aspire to learn coding or network engineering or any of the deeper disciplines of technology. In fact, by the year 2020, an estimated 5 million tech jobs will go unfilled.
5 ways to leverage technology in your business
Here are a few ways that you can use technology to free up staff from tedious work, improve the efficiency of your workplace, and cut costs by doing things faster and better:
1. Hosted PBX is revolutionizing business phone systems. It combines an internet connection with cloud computing to provide a rich choice of telecommunication solutions that work far better than traditional telephony.
2. Cloud computing technology reduces the high implementation and maintenance costs associated with on-premise computer infrastructure while providing a wide spectrum of benefits like scalability, remote computing, and access to top-level industry software.
3. While the average office worker is familiar with office suite software, fewer people are aware of the amazing number of time-tracking, productivity, and collaboration software that is readily available to solve a wide range of scheduling or productivity problems.
4. Mobile devices and applications now make it possible to do almost everything that you could only do with desktops and laptops. From placing VoIP calls to figuring out where to sign up for a seminar, mobile devices have made life easier for businesses.
5. Video conferencing allows people to talk face-to-face across the world. Business travel is now no longer as necessary as before to develop a long-distance business alliance.
Rethinking the value of technology
Every day, there are new advancements in technology. In fact, we are no longer surprised when we read about a new piece of hardware or software that can do what was once considered impossible. Unfortunately, only a few businesses have fully adopted the automated power of technology to improve operations. Apart from desktop computers and office equipment, many businesses still operate on 20th-century business philosophies on how things should get done. There are many reasons why people resist integration: insufficient knowledge about how to use technology, an irrational fear that artificial intelligence will outsmart people, and a belief that machines will replace people and destroy job security. In truth, technology can be a powerful ally in your quest to optimize your business operations.