Future-Proofing Your Business
How a technological implementation may help you remain relevant in a world of startups and rapidly growing revenues.
Technology is spreading
The cost of application design and development has decreased dramatically over the last decade making it more affordable than ever. Interestingly, these (lowered) costs are still incredibly high and a large percentage of businesses must carefully consider the upside of a steep investment.
The goal of this discussion is to help you identify what sector your business lives in and its relevance to the topic of technology and design. Additionally, we strive to answer key questions such as:
- What does a technological implementation mean for your business?
- How can you estimate costs?
- What are some examples of companies that have had success making similar investments?
An "emerging-adaptation" is a business that has the capability of scaling their current processes through technology, while also introducing the ability to expand into newer markets across the world.
Emerging markets present an enticing opportunity for new business growth and opportunity, but we are often challenged by the nature of the different markets, as they are inherently different from what we are accustomed to. For example, an English teacher may not be as valuable in America and London as it may be in Asia-Pacific countries.
Taking this example one step further, that same English teacher may be able to scale her business 10-fold by bringing her practice online which makes the prospect of having more clients, more feasible. If this teacher can successfully make adjustments to her process she not only can scale her business through, but also service more people in more places around the world, now making her not-so-interesting job, incredibly interesting to anyone willing to hear her story.
The truth is, not every business can be a Facebook, or an Amazon. Some business owners provide a high-level of value to a smaller amount of people through their own small-business, which is enough to enjoy a high quality of life. The daunting question that remains is that while the chances are high that you will be around for the next 10 years, "will your business be able to survive into the next decade?".
Technology & Scale
When most people think of applications and technology they think of the Silicon Valley tech giants. While everything starts out as an idea, it's hard to know if your venture will pan out and you could wind up spending a lot of money. You should always try, but it's very easy for someone to fall into the trap of "chasing the rabbit down the hole". Instead of searching for the unknown, it may be more valuable to assess the skills and resources that you currently have available to you. What skill or asset has a client been willing to pay you hand-over-fist? What makes you unique, and how do you do it better than anyone else?
Once you've identified something that makes you unique, which is the best part, then assess how that can add value to someone else's life. Perhaps you've already gotten this down as a small business owner or seasoned entrepreneur? If so, now is the time to figure out how you can form a marriage between your current business practices and a new form of technology!
In summary, you don't have to re-invent the wheel when it comes to technology. It's better to use technology to scale what you already have, rather than searching; wondering if you'll ever be able to create something that the world can use. If you solve a problem for one person, believe it or not, it can be scaled, it can be revolutionized, globalized and scaled to help far more than just one person.
The Different Types of Tech
Not all methods of technology are built the same. Let's begin by reviewing some of the more common forms of applications and where they might be implemented:
- Mobile Applications - IOS (iPhone, iPad), Android (Any non iPhone), Microsoft (Not very relevant), Amazon (Kindle).
- Desktop Applications - Mac (Apple), PC (Any non Mac), Other (not really sure)
- IOT Applications - Devices like Nest, Ring, Amazon Echo, Google home, or any other Smart Device that isn't software
- Web Applications - Custom platforms like a SAAS (Software as a Service). Think Salesforce, Zendesk, Squarespace
- Artificial Intelligence & Robotics - SkyNet.
I promise you, there are hundreds more. We've barely scratched the surface, but the most important thing to take from this incredibly non-comprehensive list is that there are many different use-case scenarios as to how and why you might consider using technology for your business. Perhaps you already now, or at least have an idea of the technology you've considered. Most individuals automatically go to mobile applications as a first thought, mostly because we've been trained as a society to think that iPhone apps are what make people Billionaire's.
Not only is this the furthest thing from the truth, in fact most successful companies didn't even start with a mobile app, some started with a website, like Facebook and Amazon. If you are thinking Tinder, Snapchat, Whisper, Instagram (all social) then you might be right, but ask yourself this one question, "Is your business a social network or dating service?".
It would be a waste of your time to get into the discussion of why we are in business in the first place, but irrational exuberance has led us blindly down the very same aforementioned rabbit hole! Which brings us back to this conversation. The average cost to build an application in the United States can range from $30,000.00 - $250,000.00 for an MVP, depending on how substantial the product may be. Fear of missing out on opportunities often times scares people away from the concept of a minimum viable product, forcing costs through the roof (Think Facebook 2004, not Facebook of today).
Another important fact about technology is that it's highly comparable that of starting a new family. The technology doesn't die, it doesn't go away, and the costs will continue to pile up especially as you grow. One false move and KABOOM! It may all come crashing down, scarring your business, finances, relationships and pride on the way down. You know your business better than anyone else, so when making a decision to add technology into the mix you must be prepared.
The goal isn't to scare you, but to enlighten you on the many things that a lot of first time technology entrepreneurs don't realize! If there was one thesis that could summarize our recommendations, it's to proceed cautiously, one win at a time!
Who they are:
WeVorce simplifies the divorce process and assures affordability. The company seeks to protect spouses, children, and assets by dividing the divorce process into five patented steps.
What they did:
Divorce law is nothing new, in fact according to History.com, the first recorded divorce in the American colonies was that of Anne Clarke and her husband Denis Clarke of the Massachusetts Bay Colony on January 5, 1643. The divorce was granted by the Quarter Court of Boston, MA on the grounds that Denis Clarke abandoned his wife to be with another woman.
Many of us look at the legal process and presume that every case is unique in it's own way, making it incredibly hard to manufacture and scale. While this is true, many practitioners have been following a specific set of steps or "practices" to ensure a quality outcome for their clientele for many years. If a successful divorce procedure is contained within 10-steps, one can assume that every case has a +/- of one or two additional steps, which in this case would be considered the variant(s).
Believe it for not, even the process of calling a taxi cab has a +/- of variation to each ride. Sometimes cabs are late, sometimes there is more traffic than expected, perhaps the vehicle isn't up to specification, or the driver is experiencing difficulties of their own.
Why it's relevant to you:
Every industry, practice or workflow experiences variations, but if you have the core logic of your business intact, even something as mysterious as divorce law can be integrated with technology and scaled to the masses!
Who they are:
KitSplit operates an online rental marketplace for creative equipment. The equipment available can include cameras, lights and lenses, but also VR gear and drones. Renters get access to this equipment for a lower price, while the owners get to make some extra money from equipment when they’re not using it.
What they did:
Considering themselves the Airbnb of Camera Rentals, KitSplit has built a community of safe digital camera and equipment rentals more accessible to the world. The process is strategic, yet stringent, which includes verified accounts, insurance applications, and a transparent pick-up and drop off process.
Borrowing a friends camera could be as simple (or difficult) as asking. While many programs were already in existence such as University rental programs or local shops, the ability to share a $2,000.00 (or more) piece of fragile equipment to a complete stranger was almost unheard of! While this business concept isn't really "innovative", or "world-changing" there was a clear path to success, which included safe-guards, validity and trust. Take all of these interpersonal concepts and build a platform tailored to ensuring that these processes are enforced is where the innovation comes to play.
Why it's relevant to you:
A deep understanding of your business logic is a great first step to creating an "emerging-adaptation". In the case KitSplit, the technology was used as a form of quality control rather than a necessity to perform the actual business task. Many of the best marriages between technology and business are the ones that already have solid processes in place! Did you know that one of the first examples of scale at the business logic level were pizza delivery shops Dominoes and Papa Johns!
Who they are:
Postmates is a delivery service that connects with millions of individuals around the world who basically want anything picked up and delivered to them. Whether it's an entire cake, a pair of sneakers, suit, meal, it doesn't matter. "They Get it".
What they did:
Founded in 2011 as a delivery and logistics company, Postmates started as an initiative that competed with Amazon for deliveries in San Francisco. The placed heavy focus on helping small-business merchants deliver their goods to their clients, especially in locations that weren't as accessible. Unlike most foundational service providers, Postmates used technology at the onset of their business for a process they felt familiar with.
Why it's relevant to you:
The service you provide doesn't matter, what's most important is what you currently do and how a marriage with technology can help you grow, which ultimately can justify your investments over time. Postmates is one of the few businesses that has survived all of this time because their customers are paying customers. If you have paying-customers, you are already light-years ahead of your competition, and other entrepreneurs who are looking to start their journey.
THANK YOU FOR READING!
We hope this information helps you make informed decisions on your journey to creating something meaningful!