Can you keep a secret?
Im a technophile.
In case no one else has done so, let me have the honor of welcoming you to the information age where s/he with the most bytes wins. Like it or not, technology is here to stay. I urge you to embrace technology and take full advantage of its amazing power to (among other things):
- Keep you in touch with your customers through regular emails, a Web site, chat rooms, blogs, etc.
- Create marketing collateral such as catalogs, postcards, and much more.
- Track inventory and customer purchases.
- Monitor your businesss finances and financial health.
- Handle your payroll.
- Deliver training to employees and customers.
- Simplify ordering.
- Speed design and other services.
- Allow you to simulate virtually any scenario without committing resources until youre ready.
- Control climate, access, security, and more.
- Copy, print, and fax.
- Build products
These are just a few of the ways in which computers can revolutionize the way you do business if they havent done so already. One machine costing less than $1,000 can do everything Ive described above and much more- too much more for me to list. In fact, the single biggest challenge all technophiles face lies not in finding and processing vast quantities of information but in deciding which tidbits in the flood merit attention and which can- and should- be ignored.
I use my computer to write books, manuals, letters, and this column, exchange email, create 2D and 3D art, process and edit audio and video files, watch movies, listen to music, keep me on schedule, handle my finances, connect with friends, book travel, track inventory, market my products and services, play games, and more. I even met my wife in an Internet chat room.
My guess is that youre either a technophile like me (in which case Im preaching to the choir) or a technophobe who thinks that Im crazy for putting so much stock in a machine. There are lots of reasons to fear computers. Viruses and hackers can corrupt and steal your data. More and more life-impacting decisions are being made by machines. Have you ever been approved or denied for credit? Chances are increasingly good that a machine made that decision with no human intervention whatsoever. To this all I can say is that the machines are only as good as the people using them. There is nothing inherently good or evil about a computer any more than there is about any other imaginable implement.
How does one begin the transformation from Luddite to full-fledged technogeek? Very gradually. Begin by purchasing a computer. Most computers available today are more than capable of handling your current needs with plenty of room to grow. Next, transfer one of your manual processes over to the computer. It helps if this process is one you find tedious and/or boring. The initial learning curve might be steep and painful but youll soon find yourself getting more and more comfortable with the computer and should start noticing some benefits like time savings, increased accuracy, etc.
From there, find a separate task or function related to the one you just computerized and see how you can link the two of them. Having just mastered one small use for your new computer, this second frontier will be far easier to cross. Keep going, task by task, function by function, until your business is reaping the full benefits of this new technology.
It is often said that work expands to fill a vacuum. Save a bunch of time by switching to a computer and youll find ways to spend even more time at work. Well, the choice is yours. You can choose to enjoy the time you save out side of work, invest it in growing your business, or by finding new ways to keep yourself busy. Its up to you.
Using a computer wisely can save you a huge amount of time, money, and aggravation. Using a computer unwisely can lead to some pretty nasty problems. Either way, however, a tectonic shift is occurring in how we work and play and how we measure success, all thanks to technology. You can choose to evolve or you can choose to be left behind. The question is no longer just about getting ahead; its about maintaining the status quo as well. Youve worked hard to build your business. Embrace technology and help it thrive.