Smart Use of Technology is RequiredTechnology – from desktop 3D printers to Fulfillment by Amazon to Etsy and Shopify – has made it possible for one and two-person companies to carve out profitable niches in the long tail of global demand. Technology is a double-edged sword, however. Market niches abhor the fixed cost of overhead, because fixed costs push up our break even point. That, in turn, exposes us to increasingly generic competition and the resulting price-based competition, which is deadly for sub-scale manufacturers. To avoid that fate requires the effective use of technology. Graham Ashcraft at Etsy once told me that as Etsy sellers grow, they find that back office activities can start to consume more than 50% of their time. That detracts from devoting attention to more valuable and rewarding activities such as product design, marketing, sales, and business strategy. It also sucks all of the fun out of having your own business.
- Become attuned to the activities that fill your day. Are they adding value to your business? If you can’t explain why such activities are justified, eliminate them.
- If you find yourself repeating a task, explore how to automate the task. Spending $20 per month on software is almost always trivial when compared to the lost opportunity that stems from wasting your time on repetitive tasks.
- Some tasks are too difficult or too expensive to automate or simply shouldn’t be automated. When a human touch is called for, consider ways to delegate tasks that aren’t strategic.