These days, becoming an entrepreneur could be said to be a lot more accessible than it has in the past. The internet has opened up a world of opportunity, as has the fast-paced evolution of technology. That said, nobody said that it was easy becoming a successful business person, so here’s some essential technologies that every entrepreneur needs to get them well on the way to earning their first million.
The cloud has been around for over a decade, despite the fact that it’s seen as a new technology. Think Gmail – that’s a cloud service – and you’ll get an idea of just how long it’s been about.
The cloud allows business owners with limited funds to work on a level playing field when it comes to tech. It reduces the need for capital expenditure, being a pay monthly service, which incarnation you choose.
There are three main types of cloud service:
Infrastructure as a service allows you to have an entire IT infrastructure, with servers, web servers, mail servers, etc., all hosted within a data centre. This means that you don’t have to worry about downtime, disaster recovery, backup and upgrades – all of those costly things that can be a barrier to being successful.
Platform as a service allows you to set up your own development areas, again doing away with the need for purchasing high end computer equipment.
The cloud is a great enabler and every entrepreneur can use some of it, for calendars, mail, backup and much, much more.
The mobile revolution is well upon us and as such, any entrepreneur worth their salt needs a decent smartphone or tablet. You can have both of course, if you like. The choice you make is completely up to you and your preferences, but I would suggest that the iPad remains the best choice when it comes to tablets. I have owned one since they first launched and upgraded to the Air this year.
Everything about the iPad is great. The screen, the apps, usability, speed, etc., it’s light, it has a camera and whilst you can settle for the Wi-Fi model, I enjoy the 3G aspect. It’s great for travelling as you can switch on Maps and you have a large screen for directions. The only downside is when using 3G and navigation, the battery reduces very quickly.
When it comes to smartphones, many people prefer Apple too but despite the ability to sync everything, I have never liked iPhones as much as Samsungs and more recently, the Sony Xperia. The latter is a tough handset which I have seen continue working in poor weather when friends’ iPhones and HTC Ones have failed. It’s also novel to be able to take video underwater.
For a free bit of software, Google Analytics is incredibly powerful and necessary for any entrepreneur who has a site to monitor. Without it, how on earth can you analyse traffic and decide where you can improve.
Now with even more advanced features, analytics allows you to monitor where your traffic is coming from, as well as how long people are spending on the site, the pages they visit and your most popular content. You can also set up remarketing to target visitors who have abandoned shopping carts and more.
Most marketers would be lost without Analytics with good reason and if you’re an entrepreneur, knowledge is power and you can’t have enough of it. If you’re making a splash on social media too, I would also recommend Facebook Insights (free) and Follower Wonk for Twitter.
To Learn Code
OK so this may not apply to every entrepreneur but in the modern, connected age where technology is racing forward, it’s an extremely handy skill to have. As the late Steve Jobs said:
“Everybody … should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.”
There’s a huge amount of resources online and it’s entirely possible to learn lots of languages for free. Check out learnable, which has a huge library of free courses and resources (note in the interests of transparency: I write for learnable).
It will take time, it might even bamboozle you and make you feel like pulling out your hair for a time, but it will be worth it. I was reading something earlier which said that if a founder can code, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to access finance – whilst this may be true of tech startups, I’m not so sure it applies to all businesses.
There’s a huge amount of apps out there that can help to organize your day, make you more productive and generally make life easier so make sure you have a good look around and choose the best.
To get you started, here are some of the best:
It’s hard work starting your own business but the good news is that there’s a huge amount of technology tools to help you with everything from travel to organization. It’s also worth getting a decent laptop too, whilst PCs might be on the decline thanks to the booming tablet market, personally I can’t do all of my work on a tablet or smartphone. Whilst the low-end laptops are popular due to the low price point these days, I would recommend investing in something decent as cheaper machines tend to fail earlier and lock up easier.
Successful companies set goals. Without them, they have no defined purpose and nothing to strive for; consequently, they stagnate and struggle for meaningful accomplishments. Goals are steppingstones to an end result. They must be present in every business plan and become a regular part of ongoing business operations.
What are Goals?
Goals are resolutions to achieve a desired result. Whether short or long-term, they provide a clear understanding of what the company is striving to accomplish. Setting short-term goals to reach related long-term goals is a key to success for most any business. Thinking of short-term goals as "stops along the way" to large goals can compartmentalize processes without losing sight of the big picture. Having goals gives everyday tasks more meaning and clarifies the reasoning behind company decisions.
Goals Versus Wishes
Separate statements from goals. "My company will make money this quarter" is a statement, not a goal. To turn statements into goals, businesses must follow proven goal-setting procedures; otherwise, goals are merely unattainable wishes.
One proven goal-setting procedure is called S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time sensitive. Goals must also be written, and a plan set forth that outlines probable methods of attainment. Modify goals along the way, but never abandon them unless absolutely necessary. Regularly monitoring goals and producing status reports is helpful in establishing future goals.
Set goals for individuals, departments or the business as a whole. Consider publicizing the goals for the latter two within the company. This can result in a team effort, if properly presented, and employees may feel a sense of responsibility and camaraderie. This can can help boost morale and aid in bringing goals to fruition. Input from employees during the goal setting and implementation processes can also help keep goals realistic and attainable.
Set Goals Always
Goal setting is not a one-time event when formulating your business plan, but an ongoing process. Markets change and both the economy and sales fluctuate, so the savvy business owner must take advantage of every situation. Even small goals set in the middle of a crisis can have a positive impact when things improve. When your business is flourishing, goals help maintain or increase the good times, and can act as a safeguard during inevitable slumps.
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