From dealing with cyber security and keeping your customer’s data safe, to taking advantage of technology that can improve efficiency while cutting costs, being an entrepreneur is certainly not what it used to be! While you of course want to keep your focus on your customers and providing a great product, neglecting your more technical responsibilities can have real implications, be they legal or simply reputation.
If this all sounds like French to you, then it’s important to get outside help. Find an IT technician who loves what they do and likes to stay on top of the trends or outsource to a reliable company that can give you expert advice.
When you’re planning marketing campaigns or are collecting information from your customers (and bear in mind that virtually all HTTP servers collect visitors’ IP addresses, for example) you become responsible for making sure that data is safe and that you’re not using it without consent. Encrypting all your stored data is a good idea and can help you avoid hefty fines in case there is a breach.
Train your staff to be conscious about security, restrict access to potentially sensitive information to those who need it, and have a strong password policy in place. Remember also that not all data threats are external or part of a deliberate attack – human error and hardware failure happen too. Partner with a firm like Data First Data Recovery who can help you keep your data safe and restore it should the worst happen. Try and gain at least a basic knowledge of your responsibilities as a company with an online presence and check in with your web developer or hosting company wherever you have concerns, especially if you are dealing with potentially sensitive customer data.
Use the tech that works for you, the way it works for you
Many small businesses take advantage of technologies like Skype that allow them to stay in touch cheaply, or for free. And while Skype is certainly an amazing tool, it can also become a distraction. But like many applications today, there are built-in features to help you deal with this – if you look for them. If you’d prefer to limit your Skype interactions to instant messaging, for example, you can divert incoming calls to voicemail. Whatever tech, apps and software you’re using, it’s likely there are features you haven’t explored yet. Get to know your tech!
And on the other hand, don’t feel you have to use a new technology just because it’s there. If you experiment with a platform that’s supposed to streamline your business activities and make you more productive, for example, but find it’s having the opposite effect, feel free to ditch it.
Stand out with a great user experience
The words ‘user experience’ seem to be absolutely everywhere these days, but that’s because it’s never been more important. There are so many websites and offerings competing with yours, that when you do manage to grab the attention of a potential customer, you absolutely need to hold it. And that’s not easy when there are so many distractions just a click away.
If the experience your customer has with your site is less than perfect, there’s a very real chance they’ll click over to your competitor’s instead. Keep it fast, clean, easy to read and navigate, and of course, friendly to various screen sizes.
Don’t stay a startup forever
There are so many opportunities for startups in the online realm. Testing the waters, trying different approaches and products, and experimenting with entirely different business models are all possible. Eventually, however, a startup needs to become a proper business. This might mean outsourcing tasks you used to do yourself so you can deal with a growing customer base, implementing proper HR and accounting practices, and essentially ‘growing up’.
At this stage, getting outside advice and honest feedback – and really listening to that feedback – goes from ‘nice to have’ to absolutely essential. Be prepared to hear things you might not like, and willing to change the way you do things if the market doesn’t agree with you. The business world might have changed but being flexible and adaptable remains just as important.