We live in an incredible age where scientific advancement is progressing with leaps and bounds heretofore unseen in the history of humanity. As new technologies are developed daily, old ones are falling by the wayside. All of this change amounts to a very real and influential force in the way that individual companies and even entire industries do business. The key is to know what the march of technological innovation means for your business. Here are some helpful ways to think through interacting with emerging technology as an entrepreneur.
Know What’s Out There
If you are a really busy business owner, it can be easy to be so focused on what you’re doing (which is, after all, working just fine) that you don’t pay attention to ways that new technology can improve your workflow or business model. Look up from your own business every once in a while, and pay attention to what’s going on in the industry around you. If your industry has a trade magazine (or a few), subscribe to them. Follow leading bloggers who are active in your field. Coming across an idea in one of these forums can plant a seed in your head that you can at least begin to consider as you think about how to improve your business.
Don’t Get Tunnel Vision
While focusing on your industry is a good start, it can be useful to pay attention to emerging technology in other business that only relate loosely (if at all) to yours. How many times have you heard something called “the Uber of” this or “the Netflix of” that? Some of the biggest entrepreneurial breakthroughs have occurred when one bold soul looked at an idea in a different industry and said, “Hey, I bet that would work in my space too!”
Use New Tech Efficiently, not Obsessively
It can be easy to become consumed with every new technology that has anything resembling even a tangential connection to your industry. Energy spent trying to keep up with the latest trends, is energy that could be spent growing your business in other ways. That’s not to say that seeking out new technological advances that could help your business is always bad. You just need to be selective and intentional with the attention you pay to the subject, and precise and calculated with how you implement new ideas.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm, but the Second Mouse Gets the Cheese
Being the first of your competitors to embrace a new technological breakthrough can give you a competitive advantage, but that advantage doesn’t come without any risk. Think back to the days of the Blu-ray vs HD-DVD battle. HD-DVD actually hit the market first. If you had thrown all of your eggs into that basket, you’d be pretty disappointed in the way that battle turned out, with Blu-ray winning out in the long run. Every technological advancement has a chance of failing, and at the blinding pace of innovation and corresponding obsolescence, has a chance to be surpassed just as quickly as it appeared.
By keeping your finger on the pulse of technology that relates to your industry AND knowing how to use it effectively, you can separate yourself from the competition.