By Casey Turton
The technology most often taken for granted by small businesses interestingly enough is the exact technology they need to focus on to run a successful business, according to local businessmen, consultants and educators surveyed by Carolina Men.
Suprisingly, it wasn’t the iPad, an expensive computer or Facebook page. The item mentioned the most in interviews with Carolina Men was the old reliable telephone.
“In my opinion, the key piece of technology that business owners often forget about is one of the oldest inventions…the telephone. Customers want to talk to someone when they need something or have a problem. Communication technologies, like Facebook and email, will help you get the message out en masse about product and service updates, but often lacks the personal touch of being able to answer a phone call,” remarked James Eddy, Campus Director of Miller-Motte College in Greenville.
Financial planner Peter Whalen agreed. “As I gaze around my office and consider the investment I’ve made in technology (all of which have led to productivity gains), I realize it is hard to separate the equipment into distinct pieces. So, if I’m to share with you the “have to have” piece of information technology, it is the lowly telephone. It is still my primary method of connecting with vendors and clients. Having a robust phone plan that allows a small business to gain access to their marketplace quickly and reliably is critical to success.”
Eric Miller, of Miller Appraisal, was quick to the point. “Some one to answer the phone or a direct line to their cel. ‘ NO PHONE TREE’ I hate phone trees, I will hang up if a small businesses has a phone tree.”
East Carolina University’s Bill McDowell said other studies support the opinion communication is the key to building a successful business.
” To support this, a recent poll of several business professionals and small business owners in Eastern North Carolina reported that the cell phone was the most imporant technology for small business followed by a computer. Other technologies that were mentioned included accounting software, inventory tracking systems, and copy machines. All of these technologies are important, but it always important to make sure that whatever technologies are employed, they are beneficial as a tool and do not become a distraction,” McDowell replied. He is Assistant Professor, Department of Management in ECU’s College of Business.
David Damm of Carolina Wealth Management reminds business owners not to overlook investing in technology. “”Investing in technology is critical for any new business. When I visit a company and see that the owner’s desk costs more than his/her computer, I know that the company is not going to survive,” Damm said.
Rick Mikel, Vice President of Mortgage Lending with Guaranteed Rate confessed he was continuing to work on his comfort level with technology, but added, “The one thing that I could not live without would be my lap top (although my I phone is catching up). How did we function as a society without them?”
Another technology wanna-be, Cris Noble of Vortex Restore, echoed Mikel’s sentiments. For me, the
most important piece is my smart phone, which has GPS and can be used to send invoices, receive payments, provide internet access, apps that help solve business problems and…I can actually talk to people on it! Next
would be the internet,” Noble said.
Mike Leone, owner of Greenville Vacuum, reminded everyone cash is still king when it comes to running a small business. “The most important piece of technology that we have to have is our credit card machine, with so many people paying with debit & credit cards, we would not be able to be in the retail business without it.”