Advanced technology can be intimidating for new entrepreneurs. While the stereotype of millennials being born with smartphones in their hands has something to it, that doesn’t mean we’re all programmers or coding experts (or even millennials, for that matter). The inescapable need to be wired in to today’s online techno-scape can be a hassle for people who aren’t confident in their skills. Unfortunately for them, tech skills are becoming a requirement, even for brick-and-mortar businesses.
Fear not, though. Anyone can learn the basic tech skills that most businesses require. Even if you’re not exactly Richard Hendricks, you can do it. Even if you can’t program a VCR, you can do it. Even if you’re a person who still owns a VCR, you can do it. The key is to learn just the few most important, basic, widely-applicable skills that apply to pretty much any industry. They’re not too hard to learn. Once you’ve got them down, running your business is as easy as updating your Myspace page (first tip: do not have a Myspace page).
Full disclosure: some of the following recommendations include recommendations for products and services. Some of them have been sponsors. One of them is our own company. However, we haven’t been paid to mention any of them in this article. They are products and services we genuinely use, and we sincerely think you should, too.
1. Editing and modifying your website. Every. Business. Needs. A. Website. Even if your business isn’t an online business, your business needs to be online. That doesn’t mean you have to be a web designer (you can just pay one of those), but you should be able to update your own website when and how you choose. Otherwise, you’re surrendering too much control to whoever’s running it.
The key to a successful website—one that converts browsers to customers—is that it stays active. New blogs, new pictures, new videos, new anything keeps your website alive and interactive. Otherwise, it’s just a virtual flyer. You’ve got to know how to share the experience of running your business with your audience, and that means being able to get in there and add, subtract, or otherwise modify your site. The good news is that this doesn’t take that much skill.
You can hire someone to create your website, but part of the service they provide should be some basic training in how to do simple updates without being at the mercy of their schedule. Alternately, you can sign up for a ready-made website template service like SquareSpace, which gives you complete control of your site while doing most of the work for you. You can also create a WordPress site and use OptimizePress. You can even get a crash-course in how to run a website on Lynda.com. The resources are there, so take advantage of them.
2. Using Google Apps. Google has bestowed upon us a wealth of great business applications that everyone should be using. They’re mostly intuitive, they perform beautifully, and they do everything short of showing up to your house and doing your laundry. Docs, Sheets, Slides, Calendar, it’s all there, and it’s easy to learn how to use.
Google Calendar in particular is fantastic for scheduling, especially since the calendar can be shared among multiple employees to coordinate schedules and avoid conflicts. Sheets works like Excel, only better, and is perfect for budgeting and inventory. Any other “paperwork” can be created and shared via Google Docs, on which I’m writing this very blog.
The best part? All of it is completely mobile and accessible from any smart device. Simply set up a Gmail account, and Google’s own tutorials will show you the way.
3. Hosting webinars. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: webinars are the best way to make sales conversions. Whatever you do, whatever product or service you sell, a good webinar can establish the kind of credibility that breeds unparalleled customer loyalty. I’m not just saying this because we created our own webinar platform—quite the opposite. We created WebinarNinja because we love webinars so much.
Whichever platform you go with, you won’t regret putting on a webinar. At the very least, webinars are proven to build email lists like nothing else. As long as email marketing remains demonstrably the most effective kind, that’s something of a big deal. Learning how to host one isn’t hard, either. With some basic presentation and public speaking skills, expertise in your field, and some good intuitive software, anyone can do it. Webinar Ninja in particular features extensive tutorials.
As an entrepreneur, your job is to grow. That doesn’t mean just growing your revenue and growing your business. To do either of those, you have to grow as a business person. You have to grow in experience, in wisdom, and definitely in skills. Taking the time to learn, read, take classes, and to otherwise add skills to your arsenal is the difference between growth and stagnation. These three skills are a great place to begin, and they’ll open the door to even more growth down the road.