With a company name that sounds more like a purebred, high-performance sports car than an IT consulting firm, eMazzanti Technologies is all about delivering powerful solutions in the most efficient manner possible. The Hoboken, N.J., firm is located in one of the most densely populated - and competitive - regions in the U.S. It provides IT consulting services for businesses ranging from home offices to multinational corporations throughout the New York metropolitan area and abroad.
Make Your Biz Thrive with Technology: 6 Ways
by Jeff Wuorio
reprinted with permission from the Microsoft Small Business Center
We all can recall a standout teacher, one whose insight and enthusiasm made a definite impact on our lives.
For small businesses, technology and software can often prove to be the best teachers around. But few entrepreneurs hit the streets armed with every form of business training imaginable.
That’s where technology can step in-not only providing essential information, planning and other tools but, in effect, teaching small business owners critical skills that can last a lifetime.
Ready for class to start? Here are six ways that technology provides you with the knowledge and training you need to make your small business flourish.
1. Technology has already been to school. An easy thing to overlook when incorporating technology into your small business is that various functions and features are not there simply by chance. For instance, Microsoft Office Accounting is based on well founded accounting principles, which means you don’t have to learn them on your own to keep accurate business and expense reports. "I’m convinced that you can get your small business MBA just by starting a business and using the great tools that have been developed over the last few years," says Tyler Garns, director of marketing at Infusionsoft, a Gilbert, Arizona provider of online software.
2. Technology saves a precious commodity: Time. Consider just how much time (and money) you might have to invest if you were to learn accounting skills the old fashioned way. That means class time, poring over textbooks and systematically moving from one topic to the next. Admirable, but hardly time effective. Therein lies another powerful advantage of technology-not only can you learn new skills, but the learning curve is considerably faster than traditional methods. "Many small business are family-run operations that need to get up and running quickly. They can’t afford to spend a year or two studying things like sales and marketing techniques," says Garns.
3. It’s more than a sale-it’s a relationship with a customer. On the surface, business may seem completely straightforward-provide a product or service, get paid, end of story. That’s anything but the case. To illustrate: customer relationship management software such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM not only helps small businesses track and manage sales, it also helps get into customers’ heads-what they like and why and what will keep them coming back. By tuning into relationships on a deeper level, technology promotes long term business/client relationships, not merely haphazard sales.
4. It’s not just sales and accounting. Technology helps you learn about the more salient elements of helping your business grow. It can also help you get a handle on skills and techniques that you might have assumed were beyond your reach. For instance, online programs such as Policy Map ( www.policymap.com ) lets businesses quickly create data-driven maps, charts, and reports in a matter of minutes. That can help them better understand the critical role demographic research can play in terms of inventory, expansion and other critical decisions. "Most small businesses do not have the expertise, time or money to effectively incorporate good market and demographic data into their business model," says PolicyMap spokesperson Jeff Rechler. With PolicyMap, small businesses can learn these skills quickly and efficiently, he adds.
5. You learn to look at yourself in a different way. Ask any small businessperson to describe himself and the answer likely will be a title: a hardware store owner, dentist or public relations consultant. That’s certainly accurate but it only scratches the surface. Another educational benefit of technology is to broaden your view of the skills and talents you bring to a business. And as technology allows you to sharpen those skills, your confidence and sense of self-reliance soar."Most small business owners don’t think of themselves as salespeople or marketers," says Garns. "But with the right technology they will find that they’ve actually become good marketers without even trying-that’s not a bad thing."
6. Make sure your technology is suited to small business. If you operate a 10-person shop, you likely have little use for technology that teaches skills suited to a mega-corporation. When considering technology, software and other products, make certain they’re geared to small businesses. Not only will features and functions prove a better match, the knowledge you can gain through their use will be that much more applicable to the challenges and opportunities of your business.