We live in a technology-driven world. From communications with friends and families through to all aspects of business and education, for most of us technology plays a central role in how things happen every day. Whether we are tech professionals or make use of it in only minimal ways, it’s not something we can ignore. So what does that mean when it comes to setting up your own business? What are the tech skills essential to a small business and how can you go about making sure you have them covered?
Email skills are fundamental. And not simply sending and receiving messages, consider this as next level email usage. Starting a business will necessarily mean you’re in touch with your team, with suppliers, with customers and clients, with colleagues and other small business, your email box will become pretty busy, pretty quickly. Taking some time to get comfortable with automated messages, filtering, autoforwarding, labelling and other email efficiencies will make a significant impact in your time management and your responsiveness. Getting a good system in place for your email management is step one in small business tech skills.
Social Media Communications
Social media platforms now represent a weighty and incredibly valuable means of communication, research, and PR for all and any business. You may use your Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn as validity profiles or maybe you are active in posting, commenting, and maximising the output of each? Either way you’ll need to put in place smart methods for managing your selected platforms. Knowing how to respond to complaints and enquiries quickly and calmly is key. Learn how to use auto responders to keep connected, set up target profiles for your marketing and following hashtags to dig deep into the research of your competitors among other things. Making the most of your social media platforms can yield impressive results.
It’s not necessary to understand every aspect of data storage but you do need to know how to back up your files and data outside of your own system. Making use of Cloud storage (whichever you choose) could be the answer. Browse services like DropBox, Google Drive, Apple Cloud and decide which suits the type of data you use and the amount of storage you need before you set anything up.
We can’t all be graphic designers but it’s still valuable to have a rudimentary idea of what graphic design is, what you require for your brand and what your preferences are when it comes to finding someone to work on it for you. Perhaps you’re looking for a simple logo and website, or maybe you need product packaging and marketing material as well. Make a list of everything you think you’ll need, what colours and typeface fit with your brand goals and what your overall objectives are. It can also be useful if you become familiar with some of the basics yourself. Try canva.com where you can work with simple templates for all sorts of graphic design.
Excel and Online Accounting
Excel has a significant role in all sizes of business. Whether you use it to track your customer data or share it with your team to manage product stock control, it’s a tool that continues to be essential in most companies. When it coms to accounting, it’s widely used so familiarising yourself with basic formulas and how to read and understand Excel sheets will help greatly. You might also integrate it with some online accounting packages that are designed to streamline accounting processes in small business. Have a look at solutions like Sage, Receipt Bank and Xero to get started. [links]
Every small business needs a website. Maybe it’s a brochure site to provide an information signpost for your clients? Or perhaps you need something more complex presenting your products and offering an e-commerce option online? Whatever the level of site necessary, it requires a design and build before it can be made live. The process of creating your site uses something called ‘Wireframes’ which lay out how webpages and apps will be designed. You don’t need to know how to produce these yourself but understanding what they are and making sense of them in relation to your own business will be useful.
Having a fundamental understanding of SEO is becoming increasingly essential to small businesses. The area changes at pace so being an expert is not what we’re talking about. Focus instead on getting to know the basics of SEO optimised content and how you might be able to improve your site SEO. From basic tutorials available online to making use of the many plug ins that exist for most consumer web platforms, there are lots of ways to inform yourself of the basics. Yoast (available for all WordPress sites) is a great entrance to SEO, helping you to manually update each page of your website to maximise your content and to help your customers and clients find your site. It also provides tutorials and additional information to help answer questions you might have along the way.
Writing a Spec
If you’re considering engaging a freelancer or agency to compliment your own areas of expertise it’s important that you know how to explain what you’re asking for. It’s essential to properly and clearly layout a spec for any technical work you need, to understand the language used, and the means of delivering on any project. Being able to communication this well is all about best practice, clarity, and language so take some time to research before mapping out what you’re asking for.
The beating heart of all business, understanding the data around your customers and products is vital. From looking at your launch investments as compared to the eventual sales and profit made, to understanding your customer journey online, the data is endless and fascinating. Most consumer platforms offer basic analytics on site usage but its recommended to link your site to Google Analytics and to set up your own internal goals for off-line interactions. Knowing what you have done, what you hope to achieve and what it takes to get there is hugely informative. From changing how you invest your marketing budget to altering your target audience, figures and data will become your new best friend.
No business owner can be expected to be a pro at absolutely every aspect of their company. Even if you start off your small business journey by being highly experienced in tech, that doesn’t mean you’ll be an expert at everything. Knowing the basics of the most fundamental aspects is the key. And the best tech skills to have? The ability to learn new ones.
Whatever your business idea, whether it’s just something you’ve been mulling over or whether you’ve taken some steps on the entrepreneurial path already, we’d love to help. Read some of our Go For It Success Stories and get in touch . Our business experts will be delighted to hear from you and to talk you through everything you might need to know to move forward with your business concept.