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Administer it before it ruins your business!

I’ve now been working with smaller business on their digital communications requirements for nearly 20 years. Over that time it’s been really interesting to observe how widespread real technophobia (fear of all things technical) is and the lengths people will go to to avoid it.

Despite a technical solution offering considerable benefits to their businesses, many small business operators will do anything to avoid their lack of technical knowledge being exposed. It would be entertaining if it weren’t so sad for their business. Small business operators will become virtual acrobats in their attempts to avoid exposing their technical incompetence.

Panic stations

I’m certainly no psychologist but to me it appears that technology is the one area of their lives in which many feel completely out of control. It’s an area which otherwise very intelligent people aren’t able to grasp. While most other aspects of their lives are confidently managed and understood, technology, for many, elicits an almost panicked response. They feel like babes in the woods and, in truth, from a technical perspective, that’s what they are. As a result, many have deliberately continued age old communications practices which can take their organisations at least 3-4 times more labour (and hence cost) than it would to achieve the same task with simple digital solutions.

So if this sounds like ‘a friend of yours’, what are they to do about it?

I have three suggestions:

Admit it. You suck at techie stuff

Believe it or not it’s actually okay to not understand every single working of your business. I’ve met many successful business operators, and few are experts in every facet of their business. What’s important is that you understand the importance of this aspect of your business and that you have good, reliable help to assist with it. That’s not just with technology, that’s all aspects of business.

So it’s important to calmly and assertively admit to those in the conversation that ‘really technology isn’t my strong suit so I need help with it’. That admission will save you a packet in miscommunication, delayed communication and poor decisions, because it removes the assumption that you are in a powerful decision making capacity.

But doesn’t that expose you to being taken for a ride? Not if you apply suggestions 2 and 3.

Find a technology confidante

Everyone has a friend or associate who gets this stuff. They really are everywhere. So find someone who has a similar business to yours in both size and business type to act as your technology ‘go to’ person. It doesn’t need to be exactly the same line of business, but someone with a similar business model – i.e., a plumber (a mainly business to consumer service) could seek the advice of a locksmith and so on.

Even better is where you can swap advice. For example you might be good at marketing so you could swap advice on this.

Join and ask online small business ‘Groups’

There are literally thousands of smaller business operators residing in social network ‘Groups’ that are ready willing and able to offer their advice on all things technology.

There is a trick with this though. Whilst many things appear to be technology issues, they actually belong to a business stream - underpinned by technology. For example, book-keeping software is about book-keeping and email marketing about marketing. So in cases like this it’s best to ask a book-keeper and a marketer, well versed in technology, respectively.

I’ve seen many techies simply give the wrong answer on occasions like this because their perspective is a technical one, not a business or marketing one.

So next time you’re talking to ‘your friend’, point them towards these suggestions. You might just save them a packet. Not to mention face.

ACCAN wishes to thank Craig Reardon for this article.  In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond - The E Team assists smaller organisations with all aspects of their online presence - Web help the Way you Want it...