It's no surprise that technology is on everyone's mind, particularly small businesses who face a unique challenge. In order to stay relevant, they need to update their technology, but often that means bootstrapping a solution better suited to large enterprises or costly custom development. Neither is appealing to small businesses who often have small technology budgets. The solution lies in MVP.
Yep, I said that. I violated one of the cardinal rules about writing and tossed out an acronym that probably meant many different things depending on the reader without explaining it. In this case, when I talk about MVP, I'm talking about "minimum viable product" and it's key to building your next-gen technology platform on which to run your business and impress your customers. Many business owners get caught up in the big picture or struggle with breaking the platform up into manageable pieces so they can build it. Rome wasn't built in a day and your platform won't be either. It's important to identify what is preventing you from getting more done and focus your efforts.
According the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), there are four trends which will be affecting businesses this year, but we'll focus on two in particular, Drone Services and Mobile Engagement, as these two tend to require specialized skills not found often in small businesses but can be a way to stand out.
I've always tended to pass off my interest in drones in conversations with friends, but the reality is it's an easy way to set yourself apart and offer something unique that your competitors don't. Imagine, as a professional videographer or photographer, offering aerial views of your client's wedding ceremony? There's a pool contractor who offers before and after aerial views of his customers' pools using drones. There are plenty of ways a good drone can boost your business at minimal cost (many of the best ones cost less than $1000 and can be controlled through your existing smart phone), it simply requires thinking a bit more outside existing constraints. That said, it's important to know about regulations regarding drones. There have been a number of incidents making national headlines and the FAA is beginning to crack down on amateur drone operators.
Mobile engagement is another area that doesn't require a high cost, but can easily improve your business presence. It means many things and could entail a responsive Web site design (a must if you want to rank organically on Google), email marketing (for reasons mentioned last week), geofencing (this tends to be a more costly marketing effort), or the commission of a mobile app to help either your workforce or to better connect with your customers. Email marketing is certainly the least costly of these options with many freemium services available - we prefer MailChimp, but ConstantContact and Aweber are popular options, as well. A responsive Web site is more costly but important option since, if you're attempting to engage your customers on their smart phones, they will inevitably land on your Web site. If they do and your site doesn't work well, you most likely just lost the sale.
Need assistance figuring out how to break up the creation of your technology platform? Let us know and we'll help you through it.