Guest post from our friends at SCORE
W. Kenneth Yancey, Jr., CEO
Ken Yancey is responsible for developing SCORE’s business plan and vision as well as coordinating national program efforts and all the association’s management operations. He also directs the efforts of the headquarters staff to serve and support the 370 chapters across the country. Prior to joining SCORE in 1993, Ken was Executive Director at the National Business Association. A graduate of Texas A&M University (BBA/Finance), Ken is a recipient of the USA Freedom Corp Award of Excellence, the ASAE Summit Award, and the BSA Goose Creek District Award of Merit.
Do you hear about today’s technology tools for small business and wonder if they are right for you? Do you dream about finding the perfect tools to help run your business, but not sure where to look or if you can afford them? If you have an hour, follow these three easy steps to analyze your small business’ technology needs.
1. Conduct a technology inventory for your small business.
Print the “Technology Inventory and Audit Worksheet”. Think of all the technology components that your small business currently uses and mark a “Y” next to each one, whether you own or lease the item. Once you’ve completed this step, put aside this worksheet. You will get back to it at the end of Step 3.
2. Perform a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis for your small business.
Print the “SWOT Analysis Worksheet”. Take a moment to think about your business’ strengths. They might be related to customer service, speed and efficiency, or pricing. Whatever they may be, make a list of your top strengths.
Repeat the process for your business’ weaknesses. Your business may have a product that is priced right, but not have an efficient distribution network. Or, you may not have the best marketing tactics. Write down your top weaknesses.
Repeat the process for your business’ opportunities. One way to discover these opportunities is to examine your competition closely. Also, look at your target market and think of ways that your business could serve it. Write down the top opportunities.
Repeat the process for threats against your business. These may come from your competition or external sources, such as natural disasters. Examples of threats could be a new competitor moving into your business’ territory or economic factors, such as an increase in the cost of fuel. Make a list of the top threats.
3. Align your principal business goals with the right technology tools.
Print the “Technology Plan Worksheet”. Based on a thorough review of the results of your SWOT analysis, identify your top three business goals for the coming year. Decide the best way to measure those goals and develop strategies to accomplish them. These might be to improve one or more of your business’ strengths, or address one or more of your business’ weaknesses, or take advantage of one or more of the opportunities identified, or neutralize a detected threat, or a combination of all of the above.
Once you’ve written down your top three goals for your small business go back to your “Technology Inventory and Audit Worksheet” and identify the types of technology tools that can assist you to achieve your goals.
Many types of technology tools may be able to help you achieve your top three goals. Determine which of the identified technology tools best fit within your overall business plan for the coming year. Based on a realistic assessment of the technology tools your business should and can adopt, go back to your “Technology Inventory and Audit Worksheet” and prioritize the items. Make sure to include the technology tools that your business currently uses in your analysis. You may discover that you already own or lease the resources needed to achieve your top three goals or you may discover that the current technology tools that you lease or own are not helping you achieve your most important business goals. With this new insight, you can adjust your allocation of funds, time and man power in a way that makes the most sense and that furthers your top goals.
It will be up to you to integrate this information into your business plan, based on the immediacy of the need and your budgetary and time constraints.
For more information about how to integrate technology into your business plan, take the “Creating a Technology Plan for Your Small Business” workshop online at e-Business Now or contact your local SCORE chapter to take a live “Technology Roadmap” workshop or schedule a free counseling appointment with a SCORE mentor.