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Entrepreneurial Insight from Business Innovation Experts - Part 4

August 04, 2016

In honor of I4E Tech Week, we caught up with our I4E Business Innovation Experts.

In honor of Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs (I4E) Tech Week, we caught up with our I4E Business Innovation Experts and asked them a series of questions about business and entrepreneurship. Today, our respondents tell us which technologies provide the greatest advantage to small business owners and entrepreneurs. They also provide tips on marketing. For part three in our “Entrepreneurial Insight” series, click here.

What technologies provide the greatest advantage to small business owners and entrepreneurs just starting out?

Orly Zeewy, Brand Architect says:

It’s all about virtual these days and there are some great productivity apps and collaboration platforms that can help a small business stay connected. The top two are Slack and Basecamp. Going virtual also means you can look outside your area for the best talent. Also, adding mobile payment makes getting paid easier. Apple Pay and PayPal apps are both user friendly.

Anita Campbell, CEO, Small Business Trends says:

DIY website builders. You have to start with the basics, and the basics of a business today involve having a nice looking, mobile-friendly website. It proves you're a real business. The most cost-effective and fast way to get started is with a DIY website-building tool. Later on you can get a custom website, but nothing beats today's version of the DIY tools to get a website up fast, at low cost, and with a minimum of headaches. They make it mistake proof, and when you're starting out you desperately need speed, low cost and few hassles.

After that, you need a slew of automation and efficiency technologies. In this category are apps like email marketing software, help desk software, accounting software, inventory management and similar tools that help you do more with less human work. The reason these are so important is that they help you get more done without adding repetitive tasks that prevent you from getting out of your own way, or hiring people to do those repetitive tasks. You get leverage from automation. Save your hiring for the higher level activities or when a personal touch is necessary, not for administrative busywork.

John Jantsch, Founder, Duct Tape Marketing says:

Certainly the low cost of both project management suites that allow global collaboration and marketing automation tools that help with segmentation and personalization of messaging.

Robert Irvine, Restauranteur, Celebrity Chef and Entrepreneur, says:

Restaurants succeed when owners utilize technology both in the back and front of the house. Order kiosks and tablets at some of the higher-end fast casual restaurants are popping up pretty rapidly. Mobile apps and table tablets provide a great opportunity for guests to view current and future promotions, restaurant events, nutrition information and information about other services, such us catering and delivery. Restaurants can also encourage digital reviews and experience surveys.

Charles Sacco, Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives, Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship says:

The fact that you can run so much of your business using the Internet today is a big advantage. You can use online tools for accounting and operations, email and social media for marketing, and a variety of other internet-based solutions for everything from resource management to contact management.

Brian Meece, Entrepreneur and Co-founder of RocketHub says:

Obviously the modern internet has a wide variety of “plug and play” products that were not available 5-10 years ago, saving thousands or even tens of thousands in startup costs compared to a decade ago. Meanwhile mobile has made content consumption (and creation), commerce, and communication incredibly portable.

What advice do you have for small business owners and entrepreneurs when it comes to marketing?

Orly Zeewy, Brand Architect says:

Social media when used properly is very powerful. Building buzz is how small businesses get the word out so it’s worth learning how to do that. Hire an intern to manage it, but the entrepreneur should establish the voice of the company.

Anita Campbell, CEO, Small Business Trends says:

I could write a book on this, but I will shorten it to say: remember that you need marketing. Too many small business owners do next to no marketing. Then they wonder why the business is not thriving. Duh!

Marketing is like fertilizer for plants. Maybe the plants will survive, but who wants a landscape filled with yellowing stunted bushes barely hanging on for dear life? Give your sales some fertilizer.

John Jantsch, Founder, Duct Tape Marketing says:

Um - do it! Really, make marketing a habit – something you think about on a daily basis. Get closer to your customers and use them as a tool for understanding your core point of difference and opportunities going forward. Create your products and services with them, not just for them.

Robert Irvine, Restauranteur, Celebrity Chef and Entrepreneur, says:

Know what your customers want, stick to what you know, and keep things simple. Your servers are still ultimately responsible for meeting the needs of their guests and creating a positive experience. Technology will never replace the personal interaction that true hospitality requires.

Charles Sacco, Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives, Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship says:

Understand who your initial customers are and where they are in terms of marketing reach. It’s easy to assume that all marketing should be online when in fact your best marketing efforts may be a combination of offline and online. Figuring out your channel strategy should always start with a solid understanding of your target customer segments. Work backwards from there in terms of how they want to be reached.

Brian Meece, Entrepreneur and Co-founder of RocketHub says:

Everything is marketing and marketing is everything. Have a great product and an even better story to tell. The story is not only for your customers but also your employees and partners.

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