I had the privilege of attending the 3rd annual Small Business Technology Summit on Monday.
Myself and my business partner attended for a couple of reasons. Firstly, most of the attendees are in the target market for our software product - smallish to mid-sized businesses who want to leverage their business information. Second, we are ourselves a small business (at the moment). So we were hoping to meet other business owners and learn from them.
Firstly, from a 'research your market' perspective it was fascinating to hear both speakers and attendees talking about relatively sophisticated technology topics. It occurred to me halfway through the summit that, contrary to what I had heard, a lot of SMBs are at the head, not the tail, of innovation. And it makes sense. Cost and time savings from technological innovation can have a huge impact on a smaller company's bottom line. And they're more agile - able to implement and change in less time and at a lower cost. It was intriguing to hear the amount out outsourcing talk - everything from outsourcing your clerical and office work to your marketing and sales.
In tandem with this was a general acknowledgment that Web 2.0 was here, important, and needed to be fully understood by everyone, no matter what business you are in. It was defined broadly as social media. There were some really interesting examples of people using FaceBook as a business networking tool (something I am not too sure works for everyone, depending on how you started to use FaceBook).
Of course, there were also some old tried and true topics that are probably mandatory at every small business event - SEO was talked about; time management; sales pitches/selling yourself; legal issues; etc, etc.
As the day went on I wrote down some of the themes I was hearing. They are listed below. Think of this as a snapshot of the technology memes floating around the small business world at the moment. Some of them are surprising. Some will undoubtedly fall by the way-side. Others will define the future of business:
stickyness - 'word of mouse'- community- involvement- non-mainstream- outsourcing- green- responsiveness- free- cloud- web 2.0- viral video- vision- 'technology as investment- work|life balance- virtual business- reinvent- avatarsOn the networking with potential clients side, the event was less of a success. Partly because we're still in the process of networking for resource rather than clientèle, and partly because, out of all the people we could have sat down to lunch with, we end up sitting next to two girls from Dell (one of the sponsors of the event).
It's slightly ironic that at a small business summit we end up next to two people in enterprise corporate marketing.
C'est la vie.