This episode is covering an important topic: how to know when you’ve outgrown the way you’re currently using the technology in your business.
What I mean is, when we start our online businesses, we made some technology decisions to get started. And as we ebb and flow and grow and change, those tools might no longer be a good fit – and this episode is going to help you figure out how you can look at your tech stack, or lets be honest, your tech pile, and figure out the golden gems and the deadweight.
It’s not only important to know when the time is to look at your tech, but also what to do about it.
This episode, as well as many other deep dive episodes that come out just after I’ve been on vacation, came from a trend that I notice on social media. I spend way,way more time scrolling social media when I’m sitting by the pool than I do when I’m working on client projects!
And with that endless scroll, what I get to see is a lot of people asking questions about this tool or that tool. We covered that topic in Episode 38. That one was all about the better way to source tech. This time my scroll found me seeing people over and over trying to piece things back together to create a cohesive tech solution for their business. They looked almost scared to throw a tool away that is no longer serving them and instead push harder to find a way to make it continue to make sense.
These really awesome entrepreneurs are looking to over-complicate and quick-fix it rather than to look at the root of the stress and tackle it head on. It’s okay to say “I have outgrown this piece of technology” or “This tool is no longer serving my business goals” or even “This tool has changed too much since I started using it and I’m done!”
When to evaluate
There isn’t one time that is perfect for every business to evaluate how the tech is supporting them. Some business owners do it more often than they need to and might miss subtle changes while others don’t do it often enough and turn a blind eye.
The short answer for most of my clients and the businesses that I work with is to look at things on a quarterly basis. I recommend you create this as a task in your quarterly CEO date… and if you don’t have one of those on the calendar, you have full permission to step away from your business and look at how it is running on a regular basis.
CEO dates are not just about forecasting and planning and dreaming they are also about making sure that your business is setup for growth and opportunity… your tech stack eval is certainly part of that side of the day.
I bet as you’re listening to this episode right now, you have a few tools that are needling at you saying “yup – you’ve caught me, I don’t serve you the way I used to.” Start with those, they are the easiest ones – and you don’t even need to wait for a CEO date to tackle them. What you’ll want to look at with these tools, and all tools for that matter, is ask yourself the following questions:
- Why did I originally add this tool to my tech stack?
- What do I want this tool to do now?
- Do I use other tools that could also perform that function?
- What role is this tool performing in my business today?
- Is this tool a silo or is it well integrated?
- How much effort (both time and money) would it require to replace this tool?
Let’s take a look at two examples.
The first example demonstrates what I see most often as the catalyst for starting to look at whether or not you’ve outgrown the tech in your business… you get an inkling that something might work better.
So here we have a coach who started her email list on MailChimp and is now feeling the need to move to ActiveCampaign. She may truly have outgrown MailChimp or she might be seeing a lot of her peers moving to ActiveCampaign and doesn’t want to be left behind. Or, she could just not have optimized her MailChimp for it to support her business growth.
So, let’s go through those 6 questions:
- She originally added Mailchimp to her tech stack because she wanted to grow a list and send broadcast emails.
- She wants MailChimp to help her list members become clients through email automations based on action they take in MemberVault.
- There isn’t any other EMS in her tech stack right now. So, no she doesn’t have a different tool that she could leverage.
- Right now MailChimp is where she sends weekly messages to her list and contains a welcome series.
- Mailchimp is reasonably well integrated. It is connected with MemberVault, so all her new MemberVault subscribers also end up in MailChimp and she has a signup form sits on her website.
Now, for the effort required… because her Mailchimp account is integrated with
- MemberVault, she not only has to do the migration of her list and welcome series, she also needs to change out all her MemberVault actions to connect with the new service instead of with MailChimp. When it comes to spending time or spending money side of effort required: it’s worth looking at whether the new service provider provides migration services for the main task and then DIY or outsource the rest. I recommend outsourcing whenever possible because you don’t need to be bogged down by the nitty gritty details.
So, where does that leave our coach? Is she at the point where it makes sense for her to throw MailChimp out and move over to ActiveCampaign?
The answer for me is that it’s not entirely clear yet – which means she probably hasn’t completely outgrown Mailchimp. But the truth is that now might be the best time to migrate. Based on her objectives and business goals, now might be the right time to make the major shift because it would be way more difficult in 3-6 months with the growth she’s seeing.
Having an inkling that it’s time to make a tech decision is enough of a reason to evaluate that particular tech tool but it’s also a great opportunity to delve deeper into your tech stack and see if there are other systems or tools that can be cleaned up at the same time.
Sheesh… this would be a perfect time to remind you of the Tech of Business Tech Audit…
The Tech Audit is a two part process. The first is that you and I get on a zoom call together. We discuss the tech that runs your business. I’ll ask you lots of questions to make sure I get a thorough look at what makes up the tech that supports your business. From there, I’ll create a tangible report for you in which I’ll identify tech gaps that are currently being filled by manual processes, tools that are redundant or aren’t strong enough to support your business and where to double down. It’s like a quick fix to making sense of tech and its role in your business.
I’m finding it quite funny that this episode led us to the Tech Audit so swiftly! But I guess it makes sense because it’s so easy to pile more and more onto any system or process without clearing away the necessary space for the tool to do its job the best that it can.
So, let’s get to our second example…
This time we have a professional who has developed and is actively selling courses and a membership site. Her clients and students have multiple ways to connect with her and multiple logins to access different products and services. And every day it’s getting more and more complicated. She’s getting more customer service questions than student assistance questions. At her next CEO date with herself, she’s made it a priority to list out the tools that she uses to run her business. She has to figure out how to make things easier.
Phew… that’s a lot. Where in this tech mess does she start? She can’t just ask herself the 6 questions that I mentioned earlier. Why? Because she doesn’t know what tool to look at first! The pain she is experiencing is mostly to do with client facing and client touching tools. These are largely the set of tools I described at length in Episode 71. So, that’s where she is going to start.
If this were a guided exercise, I would tell her to take out a sheet of lined paper. Then I would have her draw a vertical line about 1/3 of the way across the page. Then, I would have her draw a horizontal line every 8 lines on the page. And repeat this until she has 6 pages complete… and this will give room for 18 tools to be listed out, 3 on each page. In the box on the left side of the vertical line, she’ll write the tool or piece of software. Then on the lines in the right side, she’ll answer each of the 6 questions from above.
A tech landscape will begin to appear. This will undoubtedly make it easier to determine if there is something that she’s outgrown. Most of us use far more tools than we realize. When you’re doing this exercise for the first time, look at the tools that are installed on your computer. Also look at those that you use in your browser. Be sure to check back in your bank and credit card statements for the tools that you pay for annually, but haven’t opened or looked at recently.
**I have a great download for you that goes really nicely with this episode – it’s the Tech Impact Workbook. You should be able to opt-in right on this page (there is a floating opt-in box… if it doesn’t appear, go to the homepage and there is a box!)
Boiling back to the initial question we posed at the top of the episode. How do you know when you’ve outgrown your current way of using TECH?
The fastest way of knowing that you’ve outgrown your current way of using a tech tool is to catch yourself in the act. What I mean to say is that when you find yourself following a process that used to be 6 steps but is now 20 steps, pause, and note that there might be a better way if you start at the beginning.
Another way is the avoidance principle. Whereby you know you “should” be doing something but you keep avoiding it because of this or that. That probably means that you’ve outgrown the way you do that task whether it’s the task itself or the tools that you have setup.
And finally, the best way I know for you to identify that you’ve outgrown the current way you’re using tech is because something breaks. Which means you or a member of your team is constantly on clean up or doing too many manual processes.
My passion is to make tech easier so that it supports your business goals.
Every business goes through growing pains, outgrows tools and has to restack the tech stack on occasion. The Tech of Business is here to help you through those growing pains. We are here to help you find the best right tool for the next stage of your business and implement it so that you can keep on keeping on. And we are here for ongoing support of your tech stack.
Both the Tech Audit that I mentioned earlier and the Tech Intensive are great ways to push forward with your business goals. They help you to know that your tech is there to support you. Go to the Work With Me page on the Tech of Business Website to learn more about each of them.
I seriously cannot wait to work with you!