I began my entrepreneurial journey pre-internet and pre-digital in what were known as the analogue days. It was way back in the time when we used to watch movies on VHS tapes, listen to music on CD’s and made phone calls from a landline. In my first business I would pound the streets, delivering postcards with my details from one house to another. I’d leave posters with phone number tear offs, so people could easily call and book me in. My list of clients was a box filled with white cards with their details alphabetised, stored safely in my desk. It was the ‘good old days’.

To save you the arithmetic, I’m 52 and I’ve been working for myself for 26 years.  I adopted massive changes as digital and the internet became a staple in our lives.

I continually hear ‘how things have changed’ and yes, they have. The mantra usually arrives from the lips of those from my generation who struggle to embrace evolving technology.

I don’t know why, but as soon as we shifted from analogue to digital I embraced it with gusto. Mind you, I was a lot older than most people embracing the change. At the age of 34 I bought my first computer and a few years later my first mobile phone. Once I got a taste for tech, it was a sweet sensation that clung to me in every way.

As entrepreneurs in a technological world, we have so many advantages. Our stores can be reached by thousands if not millions, our messages can be heard from far and wide and our offerings are no longer limited to our own locale.

However, with anything new, adoption is required. This requires change, which can be uncomfortable for many, especially those of my age and beyond.

EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY IS A MUST FOR EVERY BUSINESS

Many small businesses are struggling to keep up with the ever-changing world of tech. Bricks and mortar businesses are most affected as resources are limited and overheads high. Introducing innovation as common practice for your business can help generate the rapid growth that tech offers, helping you stay ahead of the pack.

COMBINING TECH AND OFFLINE TACTICS

Embracing technology can drive gains but there will always be a need for human connection. Businesses who can successfully combine both, will stay a cut above the rest. Here are some examples of businesses who are utilising innovative technologies and traditional tactics in a beautiful combination.

Sweep – Retailers are struggling to get customers in their stores. Sweep is a shopping app that uses Augmented Reality to help customers find great shopping deals at local retailers. It uses geolocation and gamification to attract Millennials who love buying on impulse.. Sweep users can search for offers around them, ensuring they never miss out on a good deal.

CEO Robyn Foyster says, “Sweep’s flagship AR feature will help map your journey to stores and venues. Immersive experiences are the future of retail and we believe Sweep will revolutionise how people shop and importantly be the catalyst to drive more sales.”

With online retailers dominating the on-demand economy, Sweep will revolutionise the retail industry by creating a new avenue for online and bricks and mortar stores to reach their customers. This will also enable traditional retailers to gather valuable, customer analytics and data. It’s a great use of innovative technology to drive customers to retail stores.

Ikea – Using print and digital to stay ahead of the market https://youtu.be/vDNzTasuYEw

Ikea has an Augmented Reality app called Ikea Place. It lets you experience, experiment and share Ikea products into any space in your home or office. Everything is 3D and true to scale so you can see if it will fit. “Ikea Place makes it easier to make buying decisions and get inspired to try different products, styles and colours in real-life settings with a swipe of your finger.” Says Michael Valdsgaard, Leader of Digital Transformation.

It’s a great combination of online and offline strategies.

The Room Xchange

My company, The Room Xchange, is an online platform that connects busy, time poor households with guests who provide two hours of help around the house each day in Xchange for food and accommodation. Technology is the only way we could create this business and allow us to scale it nationally and internationally.

Utilising so many facets of tech, we’ve been able to create an online marketplace where hosts and guests can create a profile that provides information about themselves, their values, personality type and needs and then directly connect with a host/guest who matches their criteria. They can then message each other internally, have a conversation, connect offline and then start their Xchange.

We’ve also recognised that although technology can cover the entire process from start to finish, our hosts, being time poor, might want an offline service that filters through potential guests, conducts interviews and instigates the connection. We call it our Matchmaking Service and it’s our premium service available to those who need it., Those who like good old-fashioned human support. In fact, adding an additional premium service that connects on a personal level, can be your point of difference.

Technology doesn’t do away with the need for people. What it does is enable the connections to happen faster, provides a broader reach and can facilitate the engagement or end result in a much more affordable way.

Embrace it. It’s not going anywhere. It’s growing and moving at a pace we can’t fathom. But like anything that requires change, just do it one step at a time. Find one thing you can implement, integrate it, find another, rinse and repeat.

guest writer:

Ludwina Dautovic is a successful entrepreneur with over two decades of start-up and digital media experience. As Founder and CEO of The Room Xchange, Ludwina has created an online service, which connects busy households with a spare room in their home (hosts) with like-minded guests. Guests provide an agreed amount of help each day in exchange for food and accommodation.

Find Ludwina at The Room Xchange

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