There are more than 30 million small businesses in the United States.
Employees at these businesses often have long to-do lists and frequently spend their time addressing the most pressing issues each day.
So it makes sense that many of these businesses fall behind when it comes to investigating new technology and incorporating it into their companies.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are four simple, time-efficient ways your small business can stay up to date on the latest technology trends and position itself for success.
1. Put one team member in charge of technology trends.
Staying up to date with technology often falls through the cracks because the task is not delegated to a specific person. Instead, it’s positioned as either:
- The duty of leadership, who typically has the least amount of time to take on the task.
- The duty of each team member, which leads to a fractured or a passive approach.
However, incorporating this responsibility into one person’s position frees time for the team as a whole. By assigning one individual to be in charge, other team members can share information and ideas. But the curator can then take the time to vet the ideas and research the software to see if it would be a good fit for the company.
One important point: Give the curator power to communicate these trends directly with the rest of the team. Perhaps he or she could create an internal newsletter highlighting trends and possible opportunities or hold regular meetings to discuss the trends.
2. Follow the “right” people on social media.
Even with one person managing the overall process, every team member should stay relatively aware of technology changes. And one of the easiest ways to do this is through social media.
Find relevant experts to follow on the platforms where you’re most active, whether that’s Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or another social media channel.
At Fresh, we follow a number of industry leaders through our business and personal accounts to stay on top of the latest trends. Some of them include:
- Matt Navarra, a self-described social media industry commentator, who uses his Twitter to share the latest innovations on social media platforms. He’s often one of the first people to break news.
- Jay Baer, of digital marketing company Convince and Convert, who brings a customer-driven perspective to technological trends. One recent video focused on how artificial intelligence can boost your sales.
- Ann Handley, who publishes an email newsletter every two weeks that shares helpful tips about how to better reach your customers through copy. Her newsletters also include “Quickies,” or curated articles about technology trends in the marketing, social media and digital worlds.
- Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, who helps people learn how to get higher rankings in Google (and YouTube) based on the latest technology. His easy-to-understand articles and videos on YouTube are helpful regardless of your level of knowledge.
- Neil Patel, a digital marketer and SEO expert, who teaches through in-depth articles and videos. He’s active on Facebook and frequently shares helpful content on the latest trends there.
- Mari Smith, who stays on top of the latest Facebook news, ironically maintains an active Twitter presence. Much of her content focuses on how to get the most out of Facebook as new changes continue to roll out.
By following these leaders, we stay current on social media, digital marketing, SEO and advertising. This helps our team discover new ways to reach audiences.
3. Take advantage of networking opportunities.
It’s easy to stay isolated with your nose to the grindstone, especially when working at a small business.
But the truth is, inspiration and power often come more easily from collaboration than by working harder on your own.
Consider taking 1-2 hours each month to meet with individuals from other small businesses. Talk about what has been working — and not working – from a technology perspective. Ask what software programs they use. Discuss what different trends you’re pursuing.
This type of meeting can provide a wealth of real-life knowledge that’s simply inaccessible otherwise.
Additionally, brainstorming about how to incorporate different technological advances into your business with a group of trusted peers may reveal benefits or pitfalls you may not have thought of on your own.
In the words of Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”
4. Subscribe to relevant publications, either in print or by email.
Most industries have print publications that are tailored to the interests and needs of small businesses. They focus on in-depth content and laser-focused pieces rather than quick, breaking news.
Email newsletters provide lighter, easy-to-digest articles in a timely manner. Plus, they can be more convenient than print.
Whatever you choose to subscribe to, though, reading through various publications for even 30 minutes a week can increase your knowledge and better position your small business for success.
Here are some of the publications we read to stay up to date on the latest trends.
- Search Engine Journal: Provides search news, guides and how-tos for the SEO and marketer community.
- Marketing Land: Explores emerging elements and trends about email, social media, SEO and marketing.
- Social Media Examiner: Helps marketers learn how to use social media marketing and technology to connect with customers, generate awareness and increase sales.
- Web Savvy Marketing Blog: Focuses on the latest trends with SEO, WordPress, digital marketing and analytics.
- TechCrunch: Shares business news about technology, startups, venture capital funding and social media.
Staying up to date with technology is possible.
So many small businesses fall behind with technology.
They miss out on growth opportunities and programs that could increase their operating efficiency.
They function in a reactionary mode, never looking ahead at what technology could offer their small business.
Don’t let that happen to you.
Instead, choose to embrace these time-effective solutions and make staying up to date on technology a priority this year.
You may be surprised by the difference it makes.