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Information Technology - Tips, Tools, Productivity for Entrepreneurs

By Abiodun Ajijola - Managing Director of CGMIE Consulting Limited

Many people today are running businesses without equipping themselves with one of the greatest assets that exist in the business world today. That asset is "Information Technology". When leveraged Information Technology (IT) can make a tremendous impact on your business irrespective of the type of business. The common misconception that only technology based businesses need IT is erroneous to say the least. Any business that truly wants to succeed in the 21st Century must leverage its operations using IT. I am yet to see an extremely successful business which does not use IT to aid its activities, irrespective of the sector to which it belongs.

Someone maybe asking is IT really going to leverage my business? The answer is an emphatic YES. Information Technology helps your business:

·         Save time

·         Save resources

·         Save energy

With the aid of Information Technology, a business can move from mediocre to extraordinary. We will briefly discuss various forms of IT and how they can boost the productivity, image, quality and efficiency of your business.

 

Cell Phone 

First of all we will take a look at the Cell Phone. This device is very popular in Nigeria today and almost every Tom, Dick and Harry has at least one mobile phone. The amazing thing about the mobile phone is that most people do not maximize the features it possesses similar to the use of the Personal Computer. A cell phone enables us to do the following:

  • Make and receive calls and other digital data on the move.

  • Store business contacts (great for networking)

  • Surf the web (critical for information acquisition)

  • Take pictures of projects, clients events , etc (you never know where you need to take a picture)

  • Send and receive contact information using blue tooth and infra red

  • Make word and power point documents (more advanced phones)

  • Send and receive cash, check your account balance, pay for meals and activities. (very good for mobile banking, save time on going to banks unnecessarily). I still get baffled when I see people going to the bank just to check their bank balances or transfer funds to someone. Big waste of Time!!

  • Voice mail for when you cannot answer your phone.

  • Receive credit and/or debit alerts from the bank which helps you monitor bank transactions

  • Create appointments and tasks which will remind you at predetermined times so you don't make any miss any crucial assignments.

Many phones can do a lot more than these but why don't you check out the features and potential of your mobile phone today. Don't be like the man who was broke and sold his only plot of land for a token only to later find out that gold was deposited in that land. Your mobile phone is a gold mine and you need to learn to harness its potential to truly experience its impact in your business. In addition to this a lot of people are pennywise pound foolish when it comes to loading their business lines. All the major phone operators have a business line option. This is not just a gimmick but for a reason. You actually save money. Because we are a people that generally prefer to pay as we move along thus, the "Pay As You Go" option always seems to be the obvious choice. I urge you to take stock of how much you spend on credit in the next one month in your business and then see the cost savings if you had opted for a business line. Except you make very very few calls a business line option is the option for an entrepreneur. It is not a big man thing, but actually saves you money and it is convenient. You don't waste time looking for credit, loading it and risk the network telling you that you can't load right now. Check out the business packages you mobile phone operator has on offer today.

 

Digital Camera 

A digital camera is not used only by professional photographers and camera men. Every small business owner should have one. Some advantages of having a digital camera are:

  • It creates business on its own; you can take pictures of events and charge a fee for them or loan it out, to those who do it professionally.

  • Takes pictures of company growth, events, products, processes and other useful pictures that you can send to your clients and future customers through a monthly mail magazine or brochure.

  • You can take pictures of your customers hair do if you are a salon and keep a record of all the styles that customers have done, for maintaining customer loyalty.

  • Allows you to take pictures of your inspirations and anything that catches your fancy, which might later on become a business idea.

  • Saves money because you can choose the pictures that you like before printing them.

  • You can easily upload pictures to your website, blog and other advertising material.

  • Take video recordings of internal meetings, meetings with clients and other important stakeholders.

  • Take recordings of your product /service procedure for presentations to stakeholders.

  • Keep a video diary of your beginnings for motivation and training of new and long kept staff.

  • Take videos of your company outings and events and upload them to your website.

Most digital cameras will set you back at least N30, 000 and above and I'm sure some are much cheaper. You never know when you need to take a picture. Your phone camera is good but except it is extremely sophisticated you should still have a digital camera with high megapixels to use for the business. You don't need to be an expert, just buy your digital camera and start using it today.

 

Personal Digital Assistant or PDA or Smartphone

Next we take a look at the Personal Digital Assistant or PDA or Smartphone. This is a hand held mini computer that can also serve the function of a phone. It has large storage memory for software and other programs. It can hold songs, pictures, data, web pages and other vital business data. With it you can have all the essential data on your laptop without having to carry it around. Types of PDAs include the popular BlackBerry, IPAQ, Palmtop, iPhone etc. These phones are not for shakara at all. They are very very important devices which can seriously aid your business growth. Those familiar with President Barack Obama know that he always has his Blackberry and is always using it. This is not for fun. It keeps you connected. Your PDA enables you to do a myriad of things.

I have a Blackberry and since I got it I never miss an important email no matter where I am so long there is GSM/GPRS (General Packet Radio Service is used for data communications) coverage.  If you travel a lot a Blackberry is a must. If you sit in your office from 8am to 6pm daily it is not so necessary if your computer is hooked to the internet. However, if you are a serious entrepreneur you cannot just sit down all day every day, you need to move about from time to time to meet new and old clients, attend workshops, conferences, meetings and other important outings. When you are on the move you should also have access to information on the move. Some critics say that PDAs are an addiction but I say that is a fallacy. If you use your PDA maximally it will only help you. Some PDAs allow you to slot in a memory card and some cards are as big as 32GB. I use an 8GB card on my IPAQ and that is a whole lot of data.  All my critical files on my laptop are on it and I can do business on the go.

 The Internet

Lastly but not least we will discuss the Internet. This medium has totally transformed the way in which business is done in the world. Some companies have died because of failure to embrace the internet while others are no longer competitive. Don't let your case be the same. Today Barnes and Noble bookstore in the US has lost so much market share to Amazon.com. In the same vein Encyclopedia Britannica has lost so much market share to Microsoft Encarta. The list is endless.

Let the internet be your friend. Build a website, start a blog, open a merchant account and receive income from other parts of the world. Keep in touch with clients by using Web2SMS solutions which allow you to broadcast text messages at much cheaper rates than the phone operators will allow. Also explore the income generating opportunities on the internet. There are a plethora of legal opportunities on the internet. The internet is often referred to as the Information Super Highway. This is no exaggeration. There is a wealth of information on the internet which will help you grow your business, learn about new products and services and opportunities to increase your customer base amongst a host of others.

 

I hope that every reader of this article will take the time to study how information technology can aid his/her business and leverage IT to enhance business success.

 

Abiodun Ajijola

Abiodun Ajijola is the Managing Director of CGMIE Consulting Limited (a company set up to provide entrepreneurial development training for Africans at affordable prices), winner of the Fate Foundation Business Plan Competition 2004, LEAP Africa Youth Leadership Award 2007, a public speaker, entrepreneurial development trainer and writer.

 

What Do you Have to Say? Post Your Comments about this content resource Here.

Comments

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February 13, 2009

 

Ope of Adeniyi Jones, Ikeja, Lagos says:

 

 

This info is good to know not just for entrepreneurs or business men, even though many of us take IT for granted. Thank you, Abiodun!

 

 


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