The Australian Small Business Blog

Monday, March 12, 2007

Diary of a New Business- 8. The Technology

When people develop a business they can get tied up in the technology. This is can be very dangerous as it takes the focus from running the business. But the technology was important in this online business, as it was essential to minimise any human intervention which would, of course have increased the costs.

The technology strategy, therefore, was to define in detail, what was needed to make the business work, and then get someone else to design it for me. I did not need to be the expert. I did not want to be the expert! I wanted a technology partner. Someone who was prepared to understand my business, and to give advice on the direction that the technology should evolve.

The technology I am referring to is, of course, web technology. And there were to be two major parts of the technology to consider. The front end was the eMarketing. This included design of an opt-in page, utilisation of autoresponders, email marketing, delivery of audio and video and an eCommerce package.

The other part of the technology was the service delivery in the members area. This required the ability to manage membership, provide individual content, and to deliver media materials according to various levels of privilege.

While what was required was not a first for the internet, putting the two halves together would create some significant technical challenges. And it would not always be possible to achieve the vision without a lot of expensive coding, which would make later change difficult.

This is where finding the right technology partner was important. Someone who shared the vision, and was willing to problem solve to meet the fundamental business needs, whilst delivering a cost effective solution.

My objective in seeking a partner was to establish a long term relationship. So it was essential that the successful technology partner was able to show that not only were they capable of delivering the technology and providing the advice, that they would also be able also to provide business connections to support the business in other areas. In return, for such a technology partner, I knew I would be able to provide them with similar support.

So to find the right partner, I approached a number of web designers with a detailed brief of my needs. One came back and said, they would be happy to build my website, but they were not interested in a technology partnership. So they were dropped from the list straight away. The others were interviewed in some depth before a partner was chosen.

The website was built by

The technology that was developed for this website, was just to be Phase 1. The plan was, once the website was launched, and the membership had reached critical mass, phase 2 for the website would be developed.

There is a risk in trying to make phase one perfect. This results in large delays in launch, huge cost blow-outs, and you may end up spending a lot of time on features that no-one really wants.

It is more important in getting it going than getting it perfect. If perfection was the secret of business success, we would still be waiting for Microsoft to launch Windows 1.0.

Make sure your business strategy drives the technology, and not visa versa.

The next article in Diary of a Business will be: The Implementation Plan

If you would like to post a comment on this article, please click on the Comments link below. Note that the best comment on any article in this blog during March, will receive a Free mp3 Player.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is a Business Coach and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems.

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