We live in a digital world. No matter what industry you are in, you need to have technical skills to succeed in this modern world where everything is connected to the internet.
In the near future, all your appliances will be connected and they will communicate using smart technology. Your coffee maker will know when you need your morning cup of Joe and your air conditioning will know when to switch on or switch off. All of this will be made possible through the Internet of Things (IoT).
What does all this mean for a small business owner? You have to start getting used to technology and start leveraging its power to race ahead in the marketplace or get left behind. Here are some of the must-have technical skills you need to work on in order to succeed in this digital age.
Most people have used Microsoft word and excel. This is a very elementary technical skill. But, most people think they know these applications without knowing their full potential.
Anybody can type a few paragraphs into a word document. Do you know how to use all its features? Can you convert a list into a table? Do you know how to add placeholder text? Do you know how to use mail merge to send out bulk emails for your marketing campaigns?
The other most useful application is excel. If you are using excel sheets to just store and retrieve data, you are missing out on many things.
See if you can use formulas to get information and filter data quickly. Learn macros to automate repeated tasks. Use pivot tables and charts to visualize your data to tell a story. These are just some of the many things you can do with excel.
If you are a small business owner there is a good chance you have a website. If you are using your website as a business card where customers get your address and phone number, you need to change things up.
You have probably heard of Google analytics. It is the data Google gives you, if you installed the tracking system on your website, that tells you about the behavior of your customers.
Marketing in the 21st century is all about understanding the digital behavior of your customers. What do they want? What are they searching for? Where do they live? What is their gender? What age groups like your products? If you can unlock all the information from the analytics, you can turbocharge your marketing and post phenomenal growth.
Social Media and Email Marketing:
Using social media is one thing, but knowing the technical nuances of the marketing techniques is another. Do you use chat bots on your Facebook page? Do you know how to customize the shopping experience of your customers based on their individual preference?
Most small business owners hire a freelancer to do their social media marketing or go for a small marketing company. The only problem is that such people are generalists who may not know your industry or your customers well enough for a targeted campaign. You will be able to generate a lot more return on investment if you take the pains of learning social media and email marketing.
Being a small business owner can feel worse than having a full time job. You spend 16 hours a day working or worrying about your business. If this sounds like you, it means you are not making use of the technologies that will help you keep track of your business and automate process to give you the much needed free time to actually network and grow your business.
If your company has grown into a mid-sized firm and if you are struggling with the growth pains like building the systems to manage operations instead of micromanaging a zillion things yourself, then you should consider implementing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems in your business.
A CRM is a software that helps you manage your customer relationships at all points of contact like email, social media, and your company website. You will be able to check your sales pipeline, predict future revenues, automate marketing, and use Artificial Intelligence to get a better understanding of your customers.
An ERP on the other hand helps you get real time insights about your business. You can track the progress of your projects, drill down into the costs incurred, and plan your inventory. You can also attract the best talent and improve productivity.
Using data and modern technology also means that you should know about how to secure it from digital pirates and rivals. Details like the cost of manufacturing, supplier information, intellectual property, and customer information are vital for your business.
Learn about the industry best practices when it comes to password management. It can be something as simple as using different browsers for work and personal activities. You should also share this information with your employees to make sure there are no chinks in the armor that hackers can exploit.