For Smaller Businesses, It's About the Technology (Even an iPhone Can Make Sense -- Really) - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Government // Mobile & Wireless
Commentary
3/20/2008
12:01 PM
Commentary
Commentary
Commentary
50%
50%

For Smaller Businesses, It's About the Technology (Even an iPhone Can Make Sense -- Really)

Anyone who ever said one person can't really make a mark on the business world on their own has never met a true entrepreneur. A recent article profiling a bunch of solo entrepreneurs who deliberately choose to keep their businesses small, demonstrates the power of the individual in the corporate world. But the real point of the article is what makes each of their businesses tick: It's all about the technology.

Anyone who ever said one person can't really make a mark on the business world on their own has never met a true entrepreneur. A recent article profiling a bunch of solo entrepreneurs who deliberately choose to keep their businesses small, demonstrates the power of the individual in the corporate world. But the real point of the article is what makes each of their businesses tick: It's all about the technology.InformationWeek's article on "lifestyle entrepreneurs" -- businesspeople who take into account their lifestyle when deciding how, or whether, to grow their businesses -- definitely illustrates the power of the individual to craft, nurture, and build a business. But each of the four businesses profiled in the story is powered by technology, without which none of their successes, or choices, would be possible.

This is clearly seen in the story of Jim Fairchild who heads up a one-person firm, Coggin & Fairchild Environmental Consultants, Inc., which made $3.6 million in 2006. IW's Alice LaPlante asks, "How does he do it?" The answer is illuminating  and instructive for smaller businesses:

"By keeping things simple, leveraging relationships with other companies that he uses to build specialized virtual teams for specific contracts -- and knowing which technologies are necessary for running his business, and which ones would just distract from his core business of cleaning up contaminated ground water and soil for corporate and governmental clients."

Technology is Fairchild's business partner and employees and he chooses carefully. The Internet plays a "huge role" in his company but so does the ability to be mobile. Writes LaPlante: "But because Fairchild is constantly away from his office, he needed mobility to have ubiquitous access to this information. For simplicity's sake, he didn't want to carry around different devices for different purposes. For that reason, he now leaves his laptop at home, and traded in his cell phone for an iPhone."

And, his iPhone actually makes good business sense because he needed an all in one device. "He forwards his office phone to his iPhone, so that he's always available to clients; he checks his email obsessively; and he can look up anything he needs on the Web from anywhere. When he needs to pull in contractors for a job, he emails or texts them and, because of the relationships he's built over the years, usually gets instant response, whether it's a price quote or an on-site meeting with a client. And he's placed electronic devices at all the sites he's monitoring to track the pollutant levels, which he can monitor from his iPhone. He creates, signs, and sends his contracts over the Internet, and uploads any documents -- including complex technical specifications -- as needed from either his iPhone or his office computer."

The key for smaller businesses is also this: "Despite this utter reliance on technology to achieve his work, Fairchild is not a gadget freak. He's not interested in acquiring technology for technology's sake." Fairchild is quoted: "I don't feel the need to upgrade every time something new comes out. Because of the time it takes to get up to speed, I have to make sure it offers a specific advantage before I'll buy."

Respect what technology can do for your smaller business. Each of the other entrepreneurs profiled do. Take Dave Novak, whose one-man operation sells shower heads on the Internet. He just incorporated live chat on his Website which "allows him to be very efficient at both sales and support, as he can monitor multiple chat sessions at one time."

Perhaps the most illuminating  and instructive -- quote for smaller businesses is from Dave Lu, who developed a Website, Fanop, which is described as a "network of social portals where "communities of interest" could access, contribute, and share content on topics dear to their hearts." Obviously, there is a great deal of technology fueling his business, but LaPlante writes that for Lu, "the most rewarding part has been doing the things he wasn't trained to do. After working at Yahoo and eBay as a product manager, he got his MBA at Stanford before founding Fanpop. Yet he finds himself doing everything from graphic design to HTML coding to business development, accounting, and finance.

Lu is quoted: "Because we all chip in for anything that needs to be done, we're 150 to 200 percent more productive than large companies."

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Commentary
2021 Outlook: Tackling Cloud Transformation Choices
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  1/4/2021
News
Enterprise IT Leaders Face Two Paths to AI
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  12/23/2020
Slideshows
10 IT Trends to Watch for in 2021
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/22/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you.
Slideshows
Flash Poll