3 Deadly Mistakes You’re Making By Being Cheap With Technology

Today’s small and midsize businesses (SMBs) have an uneasy relationship with technology – even if they don’t realize it yet. As the marketplace reaches new heights of complexity and speed, and consumers migrate to cyberspace en masse to make their buying decisions, SMBs are responding in turn. Today’s savvy business owners utilize ever-evolving technologies to capture their customers’ interest and imagination, make conversions and manage their day-to-day operations with unprecedented ease and clarity. Certainly, the Internet age is a thrilling time to be in business. Each business is equipped with wildly powerful tech that has transformed the landscape of commerce forever.

But there’s an uncomfortable truth that goes hand in hand with this increased dependence on technology. At its best, IT allows us to do incredible things we never would have imagined were possible even 10 years ago. At its worst, IT is an unreliable, finicky and potentially hazardous scaffolding upon which we built our loftiest hopes and dreams. Even the best IT requires wrangling to shape it to our needs and keep it on track and safe from intruders.

Despite this reliance on technology, the vast majority of business owners consider it an extra expense rather than a foundational element of their company. As a result, they skimp on technology spending. But being cheap comes with a cost – one much bigger and more dangerous than you probably realize. Here are three mistakes you’re making by underspending on this key part of your business.

1.) You’re spending on technology based on an unrealistic, poorly planned budget rather than building your technology budget around your actual needs.

When you’re an SMB with limited resources, it’s easy to see any money saved on software and hardware as a success, leading businesses to opt for cheap, clunky and outdated solutions. But in a world where the lion’s share of your day-to-day operations is dictated by the digital equipment you and your team use, where small businesses exist under constant threat of cyber-attack and data is a precious commodity that could disappear at the speed of a failed backup, cutting corners is unwise. Updating your digital approach and tightening your cyber security may not result in obvious, immediate returns on your investment. But adequate technology spending is just that – an investment. When you invest in the latest technology, you’re investing in the long-term productivity and security of your business.

2.) You’re opening yourself up to disaster.

It’s one thing to have an employee’s computer unexpectedly fail or for an Internet connection to have a momentary hiccup. But if you’re skimping on technology, you’re leaving your business vulnerable to catastrophes that could cost you thousands. One of the most prominent and overlooked of these threats is cybercrime. According to the 2016 State of Cyber Security in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses report, half of all U.S. small businesses fell victim to a cyber-attack in 2015 – a number that has only continued to climb. The majority of these attacks are ransomware, in which entire systems are locked out of vital data and forced to shell out enormous sums to recover it. Even if you assume you’re secure (and you probably aren’t), there are other risks to contend with. Server failures, backup loss and system downtime can shutter businesses just as easily as a vicious hacker.

3.) You’re letting the competition get ahead.

Outsmarting your competitors takes more than just mimicking whatever latest strategy the thought leaders of your industry are championing at the moment. It requires anticipating future trends and acting on them. And in business, there’s one universal truth you can count on: The future of your industry lies in technology. Cloud services, new and constantly updating software, CRMs and a staggering array of productivity-enhancing tools are just a few of the advances your competitors are considering (if they haven’t snatched them up already). If you neglect the future, your company is destined to become a thing of the past.

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Shiny New Gadget Of The Month:
Watch What You Eat With LinkSquare

Everywhere we go, most of us use vision to navigate our world. Whether our mouth begins to water at the sight of a tasty dish or our brow furrows at the sight of a shady -looking dollar bill, our eyes are one of our primary means of connection to the world around us. But, just by looking, can you tell whether that delicious-looking food is as high quality as it seems? Or be absolutely sure that the dollar is real?

Enter LinkSquare, the pocket-sized spectrometer that enables us to gaze deeper into the objects around us. After you scan an object with the device, it uses machine learning to analyze the properties of all sorts of items, including the freshness of food, the authenticity of money or gold, the identification of stray medications and a huge variety of other potential applications. If you’re interested in purchasing this wildly futuristic technology, it’ll cost about $300. Learn more at LinkSquare.io.

3 Questions No Leader Should Ever Ask

At ghSMART, we advise board members and CEOs of large companies on their most important leadership issues. One of the most important skills we discuss is making sure they are consulting on the right questions.

I think of a “right” question as one that matters – a question that will cut to the heart of an issue, produce an answer on which the leader can act and provide the highest value to the leader in terms of results.

But the “right” question then becomes, “What are the wrong questions?”

There are three categories of “wrong” questions that I’ve heard time and time again over the years. Merely asking these questions can lead you down the wrong path when you’re seeking to achieve your career’s full potential.

1.) If you have to ask an ethical question, just don’t do the thing you were considering.

The wisest, most successful leaders I have served or worked alongside all seem to lead according to this rule regarding ethical questions: “If you have to ask, then don’t.” In other words, if there is something you’re considering that’s in a moral gray area or might be misinterpreted as unethical, then just don’t do it. At ghSMART, we call this “having 110% integrity.” We do things that are not only 100% ethical, but we give an extra 10% safety margin to avoid things that could be misinterpreted.

2.) If you have to question whether someone is underperforming in their job, they are.

There’s a common cycle of “facing reality” I often see my clients go through. They have a bold vision and a goal to achieve something great. And when they realize that they don’t have the team to make it happen, they start to fantasize and think, “I wonder if Fred or Amy is going to rise to the occasion and display strengths we’venot yet seen to achieve these results.” Great leaders know who they can count on. They don’t expect a subordinate to suddenly start performing well in a role that does not appear to fit their talents and interests.

3.) If you wonder whether you can trust your boss, you can’t.

There is a saying: “People don’t quit companies; they quit bad bosses.” So if you find yourself wondering whether you can trust your boss or not, you likely can’t. Instead, go find a boss you can trust. Find a boss who will hold your interests in high regard and care about your career goals as much as you do, giving you coaching and feedback to help accelerate your learning. These bosses will have your back during bonus time. Rarely do you see great leaders who wonder about the trustworthiness of their boss staying at that particular job very long.

Geoff Smart is chairman and founder of ghSMART. Geoff is co-author, with his colleague Randy Street, of the New York Times bestselling book, Who: A Method for Hiring, and the author of the No. 1 Wall Street Journal best-seller, Leadocracy: Hiring More Great Leaders (Like You) into Government. Geoff co-created the Topgrading brand of talent management. He is the Founder of two 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations. SMARTKids Leadership Program™ provides 10 years of leadership tutoring and the Leaders Initiative™ seeks to deploy society’s greatest leaders into government. Geoff earned a BA in Economics with honors from Northwestern University, an MA, and a PhD in Psychology from Claremont Graduate University.

Our IT Princess of Power with Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec

Robert Herjavec On Cyber Security: Is It A Fad?

You are most likely familiar with Robert Herjavec from ABC’s show Shark Tank. What many don’t know is he’s a self-made millionaire and founder of a Managed IT Security Services firm in Canada called The Herjavec Group. I’ve had the opportunity to meet Robert on several occasions and he is always very insightful when it comes to business growth.

This last time he talked directly about IT security services and it really hit home. Robert shared, “I always thought cyber security would have tremendous growth, but it’s not something that will be around forever. …I’ve realized that cyber security is not a planet in the computer world, it is its own solar system…”

WOW. At that particular moment I realized even I was holding a hidden belief that cyber security needs and products were a fad and they would eventually go away. Robert is saying that not only is cyber security not going away, it’s in category all by itself in the IT world, like application development is different from help desk support, AND its need is growing and will continue to grow.

The implications for businesses is that none of them (even small and mid-market firms) can pretend that they don’t have to take it seriously, at least not without potentially having their entire business wiped out.

Robert’s talk inspired me to author a book that will be released July 11, 2018, called “Cyber Warfare: Protecting Your Business from Total Annihilation.”

CEO’s, managers, and IT directors need to be able to sift through the media propaganda and the zillions of slicks and white papers to determine what they really should be doing to protect their business.

My goal was to deliver an easy to read guide to empower companies to take control of the biggest risks today. Thank you, Robert Herjavec for the inspiration and insight. I’ll send you a copy.

To your continued success,