Technology and 21st Century Small Business Owners

When I received my marketing degree 10 years ago, the coursework did not include classes for the types of marketing media that are available today. Having a website then was not as important as it is today. Although we had computer classes, how to design and build a website was not included in the syllabus. How to create effective e-mail marketing campaigns and design e-newsletters were not being taught. The choice of marketing strategies 10 years ago included distributing fliers, word of mouth, radio and television advertising, posting ads in newspapers, Yellow Page listings, and sales letters. Technology has changed how 21st Century small business owners (SBO) market their products and services, as well as their options of communication tools.

Nowadays, 21st Century small business owners marketing strategies include e-mail marketing campaigns, e-newsletters, Google AdWords, writing articles and blogs, participating in target markets forums, and online networking, to name a few. However, word of mouth is yet the most effective and efficient marketing medium. If a small company has a large enough budget, some of the marketing strategies and media of yesterday can still be used. Technology, however, has leveled the playing field. Small business owners have the option of online marketing, which is less costly than the traditional offline methods.

Technology has also changed how businesses communicate. Ten years ago, the only choices were snail mail, fax machines, and telephones. Now, a 21st Century small business or large corporation choices include Skype, e-mail, digital computer camera (webcam), teleconference or virtual meetings, video e-mails, Instant Messaging (IM), GoToMeeting, and GoToMyPC. Skype is software that allows you to use the Internet, headset or speakers, and a microphone to place phones calls around the world. With e-mail software, documents can be sent between recipients as e-mail attachments. Webcam and the Internet are used to perform teleconferences or virtual meetings between two or several people. Webcam is also used for creating videos for video e-mails. IM is real-time conversation between two or more people using typed text and the Internet. Yahoo and MSN provide the software for instant messaging capabilities. 21st Century small business owners have the ability to schedule and attend online meetings with GoToMeeting software and the Internet. Using GoToMyPC, a business owner is able to access his or her PC from anywhere with a web browser or wireless device. In addition, if the owner has a virtual administrative assistant who needs to access his or her desktop to perform certain administrative tasks, the assistant would be able to with GoToMyPC software.

Thus, technology has made it possible for SBO to have administrative assistance without the person being present in their offices. These administrative assistants are known as Virtual Assistants. Technology allows administrative assistants to provide their services virtually. Virtual assistants are business owners also; therefore, they are able to anticipate the business owner’s needs, which make the working relationship beneficial and viable.

Technology has provided 21st Century small business owners with the ability to operate similarly to large corporations. Now SBO can afford to market their products and services. In addition, their budget can accommodate retaining the services of a Virtual Assistant, which will cost less than hiring an on site administrative assistant. In the last 10 years there have been a lot of changes in how 21st Century small business owners conduct marketing, as well as the choices of communication tools that are available due to technology.