The improvements of the internet and the tools for entrepreneurs and all professionals, that have less than mediocre technical skills, has made all the difference in enabling entrepreneurs to build businesses without breaking the bank. On the flip side, however, is that all the new technology we hear about can be overwhelming and almost counter-productive.
The following are two key ways to both manage costs, frustration, and the sense of being overwhelmed.
· Keep costs under control.
As an owner of a previous small business (which I did sell), I spent more money than I wish to admit on web designers, maintenance, updates, and search engine optimization. A few years ago when I started Healthy Joyful Living, my Lifestyle and Entrepreneurial Coaching Business, I decided that I was going to find a way to design, update, and manage the website myself. Surfing different sites I found some great companies (and there are plenty today) which offer a variety of templates, tutorials, continuous support, and advanced options for websites. Each week I would try to learn one more technique, one more tool, one more look that I wanted to do. I finally gave in and asked for a few hours of help designing the homepage and the banner as I didn’t have a photoshop. All in all, I built a complete website using an outside person to the extent of $250 and I feel extremely empowered.
I can update, maintain, add, and get as creative as I want at no extra cost.
Check out the various sites and take control of yourself. I found it and love it. When needed, get help, but be aware of ongoing assistance needed or your costs will soar.
· Don’t engage in more than one new technology a month.
If you are anything like me, the minute you hear or see about something new, you want to add it to your marketing mix. Whether it’s a YouTube video, video email, newsletters, building a database, teleseminars, or any other new technology, they all take time to learn and implement without getting frustrated.
One strategy I am finding to work (after getting frustrated with myself and the technology) is to only integrate one new technology into my business at a time. If I am working on my database, that is what I focus on until it becomes routine. If I am developing a newsletter, I focus on the template design and the implementation until it is routine. Once I feel I have it working, I focus on another technology.
Of course, you always have the option of hiring someone else to figure it out (which sometimes is a good option), but be careful of losing your knowledge of how it works as you will soon find that your variable costs have just become fixed.
Make a Plan to maintain and learn.
I am now devoting approximately:
- One hour a week to maintain what I have in place (i.e. checking the database watching for new subscribers, updating the website);
- One hour a week to each of the ongoing communications (i.e. blog, SF Examiner, newsletter articles);
- One hour a week to learning new technology. Sometimes this is a new function on the website. Other times it is a new technology that I want to use and learn. This includes reading articles, trying it out, and experimenting.
By recognizing that I don’t have to do it all today, I am continuing to learn and not be overwhelmed. As entrepreneurs, we have to manage our time and the learning curve for some of these endeavors is high, the return is still to be determined, and the time it takes can eat away at other marketing and sales efforts.
So my words to the wise today are to take it one step at a time and empower yourself. The benefits are huge in lower costs, faster turnaround, and new knowledge and skills for you personally.