A few months ago I had the honour of being nominated one of the Top 50 Business Advisers 2018 by Enterprise Nation. It has been an exciting and at times hard journey since starting Strillobyte, and it was a huge privilege to eventually be included in such a great list of professionals.
Aside from the obvious ego-boost, it renewed my energy to work harder to promote good tech, and the vision of technology as a tool to unleash human potential, rather than a replacement for it.
To keep up the good work, here is my list of top tips for non-technical founders. Something that I always stress with clients, and that I hope can be helpful for anyone who is thinking that technology is just such a hassle.
Tip #1 - Don’t underestimate the cost of using the wrong tech
From internal communications, to sales and customer support, technology can help your business thrive. Or, it can choke it.
Emails are often a good example: how may of them lie unread or waiting for a response in your inbox? Are they all of the same importance? Are they from customers, or internal staff?
If the numbers are high, you should consider whether this is simply an indication that email is just not the right tool for all purposes.
If your inbox is exploding, you should probably take a look at Instant Messaging platforms. There are several on the market that are affordable, easy to set up, and much, much more effective than emails at managing conversations within a business. They all come with pros and cons, so carefully consider which one is the best match for your needs.
Some of the most common features and advantages of IM products available today are:
the ability to organiseconversations by topic, and to only invite relevant people to contribute
easy ways of sharingdocuments
support for searching a conversation’s history to quickly revisit a whole thread
I would also add that if you have remote staff, then an Instant Messaging tool is a must. It can help you foster quick feedback and collaboration and dramatically reduce the need for meetings or calls, generally improving the speed at which decisions are taken.
Some of the most popular platforms currently worth checking are:
Tip #2 - Technology evolves quickly, be prepared to change with it
You might have come across the term technical debt before. This is normally referred to as the amount of legacy technology that a business relies on, and that cannot be easily replaced.
While the concept of technical debt might sound abstract, its consequences are very much real. Failing to keep systems and tools up to date can cause great damage to any company. At a basic level, data and information may become unusable over time, but you could also become exposed to the risk of being hacked.
Still, technical debt is somewhat unavoidable. The speed at which technology changes means that no one can be 100% on top of the latest trend. From small businesses with tight budgets, to large corporates running on complex and often bespoke applications, it is practically impossible to be flexible enough to try, test and eventually adopt any new platform or widget that comes to life.
The key to dealing with this type of debt is to manage it. Be aware of its existence and constantly check wether your debt is growing too much, and if there can be any new opportunities to reduce it.
A free Dropbox account can hold the same amount of data as 1400 old floppy disks!
For instance, you might store a lot of information on an old server, just as a backup, or even for sharing it with your staff. Could you perhaps move that to a new network storage drive (a sort of private Dropbox)? They normally come with up-to-date antivirus software, solid encryption algorithms, various levels of redundancy to prevent data loss, and so on. All for probably less than £500.
Think of those processes or areas of the business that haven’t changed in a while, and look for opportunities to upgrade and improve your systems.
Tip #3 - Know what tech your customers use, and engage with them on their favourite platforms
Technology is not just great to support collaboration and teamwork within a company. It can also offer huge opportunities to nurture and grow your customer base.
Almost anyone has some form of online presence, from Facebook to Twitter or LinkedIn. Being aware of where your users are can be crucial to the success of your products or services. Learn to master the tools that your customers use, be there offering them value and new ways to stay engaged with your business.
Could you use webinars or podcasts to promote what you do?
Or, especially if you are a B2B company, do you have an active LinkedIn page that provides useful content to readers?
Online sharing platforms and social media channels can be extremely powerful to promote what you do (or sell). Be there!
Over to you
Wondering how you could use technology more effectively, or have a specific question to answer?
Drop it in the comments below, or get in touch with the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.