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I have run my own business for 25 years and published my magazines for over sixteen years now. One of the biggest changes I have seen over this time has been in the use of technology, which enables me to run my business so much more efficiently than when I started out. However, whilst these software applications* are great and, if you choose wisely, easy to use, they are accompanied by an expectation that we should be able to do everything ourselves.

* e.g., CRM systems, Accounting Packages like Quick Books & Zero, email marketing systems such as i-contact or Mail Chimp, online back-ups / storage e.g., Dropbox etc.

Years ago, I used to type up invoices and post them, simply writing “Paid” and the date on them when I subsequently received a cheque. The invoices were filed in a (colour coded!) lever arch file and the cheques paid in at the bank using a paying in book. I recorded my expenses on a spreadsheet and kept all my receipts in a nice orderly manner, sending everything to my accountant at the end of the year. It was efficient, albeit extremely slow and ponderous; but it worked.

Today I use an “all singing, all dancing” online accounting system which is great. It is easy to use on a regular day-today basis for all my regular bookkeeping and accounts and gives me so much more information on, and control over, my business…

… until that time when I have a one-off very specific query and I realise that not only do I need to have Accounting knowledge but I also need to be a technical expert on the software to implement the action on the system.

And of course, it is not just in the area of software that business has become more complex. Recent years have seen so many changes in terms of Legal/HMRC requirements e.g., Employment Law, Staff Pensions, Data Protection, HMRC & RTI etc to say nothing about all the many different ways we can now market our businesses.

… but I am lucky because I have done a lot of networking over the past 16 years so I usually know someone who can help – whether that be a quick answer to a specific question e.g., “how do I do xxx in this application?” or a longer conversation e.g., “so tell me about your experience of using this software”.

I talk a lot about how to network – about sharing your knowledge and expertise, becoming known as an “Expert” in your field and just generally being helpful – a truly underrated quality.

… and the great thing about networking this way is that when you need help in return it is given back with generosity.

So yes, business and the technologies we use might sometimes seem complicated, even overwhelming, but if you get out and go networking you will meet experts in every area of business and at Coffee and Connect, we are always happy to talk and share our expertise.

Aside from Networking my area of expertise is Marketing so if you want to talk about all things Marketing, please do come and chat to me at Coffee and Connect.