Get Organized, save more time, be more efficient. Those are all great reasons to use technology but here’s a reason you might not think of. Technology is displacing businesses both large and small. Simply stated, it is putting a lot of businesses…out of business. Do you remember what happened to the typewriter? It doesn’t matter if you’re ready for it or not. Technology is the crucial ingredient to success when it comes to running a business. There are a lot of people that love it. There are also a lot of people that loath it. This is called the digital divide. Regardless of which side you fall on, you should understand the side-effects of technology and how it affects your business in today’s world. I still run into entrepreneurs every day that refuse to get off pen and paper. Unfortunately, these are the same guys that will end up like the typewriter. Technology is one of those things that can catapult any company forward. At the same time, a lack of technology can leave a company behind just as fast. When it comes to competition, it’s also one of the few tools that serve as an equalizer. What I mean is, whether you’re a new or small business, technology can make you can look just as big as your biggest competitor. Here’s an example. When I started my first company Screameleons, I was up against competitors that had been around for 10+ years. They had a lot more experience and even more pedigree. They were well-known in the space and are very well respected. I, on the other hand, was just a startup that seemed to have come out of nowhere. But guess what happened? It didn’t matter. In the eyes of new consumers, we were equal. Here’s why. While my competitors were well established, they were primarily doing business the old fashioned way. They sold through the local and national conventions. They would set up a booth and sell face-to-face. They also advertised in magazines and trade publications — a very outdated and analog way of running a business. Personally, I built my business online. I used an e-commerce platform that would give the buyer every detail they needed to be confident about buying our products online. This exposed us to a broader audience and more customers. I was also one of the first to use mobile devices to track our inventory. This kept our online storefront up-to-date in real-time. To the customer, we looked well-established. Although I was a smaller company in the beginning, I was able to leverage technology, software, and mobile tools to make me appear just as big as my largest competitor. Within a relatively short amount of time, I practically displaced my #1 competitor overnight. When I came into the market, my buying experience and customer service experience trumped everything and everybody else. In short, technology put me on the same level as my competitors. That’s why it’s so important to focus on your customers first impressions. New customers buying for the first time didn’t know me from the next guy. But what they did know was that I ran a tight ship and that created confidence for the buyer. Now, let’s fast forward to mHelpDesk. To win against our biggest competitors, we needed to offer a world-class buying experience and customer service experience. I took everything I learned about leveraging technology and put it to work. If you haven’t signed up yet, or don’t know what we do, mHelpDesk is an end-to-end business management software company. We have incredible systems in place, but I’ll break it down in layman’s terms. We use software to advertise our products, then we use software to sell our products and use a software to manage our services. We don’t run anything old school and our entire organization is fueled by technology. What is the side effect of that? We’ve beat out our competitors both big and small. Ironically, our competitors have been in business for decades. If you read the online reviews about mHelpDesk, you can see how customers perceive our business. They say we offer a better buying experience, a better customer service experience, and a better product. Technology is what has made this all possible. Ironically enough, the software we use internally is mHelpDesk. Yes, we drink our own Kool-Aid, but it honestly has everything we need. Our business model is nearly identical to our users. Our users “sell” a service and our users “deliver” that service. We “sell” software as a service and we “deliver” customer service. We book our appointments, create estimates, and process sales through mHelpDesk. We even use it to schedule internal trainings, track issues, and speed up troubleshooting. Our customers recognize that we do a great job in all these aspects, and we have technology to thank. Now here are the side-effects of NOT using technology. Last Friday, my dryer broke at the worst time. I searched the internet to find a local repair technician. I put in my zip code and let them know what my issue was. Within a minute, I was connected with a local appliance repair company, who I’ll keep anonymous. The technician said he would be by the house between 3:00-5:00 pm. 5:05 pm came around and nobody showed up, so I gave them a call. He apologized profusely and said he didn’t know what happened. He then rescheduled the visit between 5:00 and 7:00 pm. At 7:15 pm he called and said he couldn’t make it. He rescheduled it for Saturday morning at 9:00 am and I reluctantly accepted. 9:00 am Saturday morning came but not the technician. There was no call, no apology, and no offer to reschedule. I left him a voicemail telling him to forget it. I tell this story because it was clear that he wasn’t using any technology to run his business. I’ve been there, done that, and I’m sure everyone has dropped the ball at least once in their life. When I spoke to him on the phone, I could hear him shuffling through paper! Who does that anymore? Think about the impression you make on your customers. Even if you are the only employee in your company, software can make you look 10X more professional. You can show up at the client’s site with a clumsy clipboard, but your competitor will show up with software running on their mobile device. Who is the customer going to feel confident about? Who is the customer going to choose? The guy that looks like he’s up-to-date in his systems! If your tools are up-to-date, chances are your training, policies, and practices are also up-to-date. This is how the consumer sizes you up. As a consumer, I expect my service provider to be up to date on everything. If my doctor checked me in using an outdated file system, I’d wonder what else is he doing that is behind the times. I wouldn’t be too confident that he’s equipped with the latest medicine and trends. It’s scary, to be honest. The landscape for running a company is changing drastically. 10 years ago you could have gotten away without technology. You could have run your business on pen and paper all day long and it wouldn’t have mattered because most of your competitors were also running on pen and paper. Today, if you’re running your business on pen and paper, you can count on the fact that most of your competitors are now running their businesses with technology. Technology is going to displace you or displace the competition. Which side of the digital divide are you on?