Founder & CEO of Creative Business Inc a financial consultancy that specializes in serving elite entrepreneurs in all creative sectors.
Whether your business is struggling with CRM, rolling out DEFI payment solutions, or exploring new employee engagement software, small and medium business owners need to stay on top of the latest technology trends to stay ahead of competition, talent, and meet customer expectations to fulfil.
The rapid pace of change makes it a challenge for any CEO, especially those who are not in the tech space. But this essential knowledge offers more benefits than the chatter of water coolers: it can help the company cut costs, improve automation and create new growth opportunities.
Here are five tips to help you get ahead and stay ahead.
1. Talk to your internal stakeholders.
Even if you trust your tech person or team and are confident that they can keep your business on the cutting edge, you should definitely be part of the conversation. As confusing as some of today’s buzzwords may be – from augmented reality to cybersecurity network – things are only going to get more complicated as time goes on.
But keeping up with the tech landscape takes more than a two-way dialogue between the CEO and the tech team. CEOs need to involve many stakeholders in technical conversations, ask for feedback and ask a lot of questions. Don’t have a technical department? Consider creating a technology task force to lead internal discussions and fact-finding.
2. Consume the news.
There are plenty of publications that can help you keep up with the changing tech landscape. You’ve probably heard of the biggest ones like Wired, TechCrunch, or Recode, started by columnist Kara Swisher. But there are many others, including more niche tech blogs. These blogs and newsletters provide an understandable reading without causing a technical overload. Keeping an eye on these pubs will help you speak the language of technology like a pro.
3. Reach your customers and colleagues.
Find out what technology changes your customers are making so you can meet their needs. For example, if they switched to cloud-based software from Salesforce, ask them why and how it helps their business. Also, connect with your colleagues and others in the industry. Industry associations are another good resource; often they have technology workgroups, research, and best practices that they collect from their members.
These conversations can lead you to a discussion with your own team about whether an internal upgrade is beneficial. Communicating with customers and colleagues about what they are doing differently can yield knowledge and even more business opportunities.
4. Find a mentor.
Of course, you are the CEO. You should know it all. But sometimes even a master of the universe needs a little help. So find a mentor who can fill the gaps in your technical knowledge base. It could be your company’s CIO who is on your speed dial for an emergency briefing. There may be another co-worker or even a family friend who impressed you with their understanding of the tech universe.
There are online technology groups, meetups and communities, as well as alumni associations and professional networks where business people can connect with each other. It makes the most sense to find someone in your industry.
5. Make an action plan.
Once you feel a little more comfortable with your understanding, you can execute a plan. Start with listening sessions with different stakeholders across the company. Taking the whole company on this journey is the best way to make it successful. Talk to your employees and discover where the technological gaps are and what solutions are possible. Then have your technology task force create a blueprint for the next steps. They may recommend hiring a new expert, replacing a communications tool, or setting up demos with a handful of software vendors.
Here’s the bottom line: There’s never been a more critical time to get tech savvy. It’s an area that’s just too important for entrepreneurs to leave completely to others. A company that doesn’t keep up with the changing landscape can quickly get left behind.