Entrepreneurial Tech Talk
We women entrepreneurs like our work. We\’re great networkers and natural relationship-builders. We welcome the opportunity to pitch our services to a prospect. We send out one heck of a newsletter. Our customer service is the best in town. And, we\’re forever reading articles and attending seminars to educate ourselves about how to run things more effectively and efficiently.
But when it comes to conversations about “backing up the system” and “customer management software” our eyes glaze over and we begin to wonder if reindeer really do know how to fly.
The truth is that the best time to confront tech issues in your business is before they come up. Groan if you must, but do it anyway, as the long-term losses of avoiding systems in your business are far greater than the investment of time and money. The key is to do it strategically.
I sat down with Casey Dawes, a California-based coach and owner of Wise Woman Biz (www.wisewomanshining.com), who, after a long career as a corporate consultant, is now dedicated to helping smart women claim their power over their business systems. “If you were able to manage your contact and customer information better,” she asks, “how would that change your business?”
Casey says she often sees entrepreneurs scooping up technology products that they think they\’re supposed to have, without any understanding of what they really do or if you even need them.
Someone probably told you ACT! was a must-have, and doesn\’t every entrepreneur use QuickBooks? Then we heard about Constant Contact…but few of us understand how these products manage information, and more importantly, once the input process is over, how do you get the information you need back out? After a couple days of trying to figure all this out, the post-it method seems like a good one.
This whole process causes stress, lost time in productivity and profit, and can even get you “stuck” in a negative technology cycle, where you end up spending way too much energy trying to make technology work in your business…to the point where you\’re no longer focused on the business itself.
First ask yourself “What is it you want to do?” Casey suggests. “A system doesn\’t mean that you have to buy software. It means you know where your information is coming from and what you want it to do for you. Purchasing things like ACT!, QuickBooks, and Constant Contact can lead you to a jumble if you don\’t know how they fit in your overall plan.
Casey advises that you not rush to the technology solution, but rather take a comprehensive look at the whole picture. She encourages women to:
1. Plan an overall business strategy
2. Determine what business systems will best support that strategy
3. Investigate how technology can help you with your business systems
4. Build your systems, beginning with good financial systems, and moving to good marketing systems.
For example, “A good customer management system,” says Casey, “including both the technology and how you use it, will allow you to segment your customers, contact them on a regular and appropriate basis, and serve their needs appropriately.”
She also recommends that women budget for not only the hard system costs themselves, but also for a knowledgeable expert to help them plan beforehand, and strategize the best and most cost-effective solutions for their individual businesses.
What\’s the most important thing to keep in mind on the tech journey? “Patience,” Casey says, “because it will take you time to learn. And it won\’t always work correctly the first time.”
Take some time today to consider your own systems, or lack thereof. What are repeat tasks costing you in time and energy? With a plan in hand, carve out some time to investigate possible solutions for running your business more efficiently. Then you can get back to the business of growing your business.