This week is National Small Business Week (May 1-7) and much of the digital conversation celebrating our 53rd annual #NSBW focuses on how technology helps to build and grow our small businesses. There's no doubt that technology has leveled the playing field for SmBiz owners. It offers infinite possibilities in the areas of marketing, sales and overall efficiency. I'm a big fan of the benefits that tech has brought into my professional life...but call me crazy because I also feel that technology is all consuming and I struggle with that almost daily.
I started my first business in 1993, so I know what entrepreneurship looks like without technology and social media and it wasn't terrible. There are pros and cons to both 'then and now.' It's interesting to look at this comparison because I believe we're at the tipping point of yet another major change that tech is ushering in, before we're even up to speed with this era.
Co-founder and former CEO of AOL, Steve Case, states it perfectly in his new book The Third Wave, he writes, "The Third Wave of the Internet will be defined not by the Internet of Things; it will be defined by the Internet of Everything. We are entering a new phase of technological evolution, a phase where the Internet will be fully integrated into every part of our lives- how we learn, how we heal, how we manage our finances, how we get around, how we work, even what we eat..."
I believe it, I see it and I do embrace it but I've also been trying to balance the yin and yang of a tech lifestyle for several years now and its only going to get even more difficult to unplug or separate to any real degree. And that separation has proven to be important to a healthy lifestyle. I actually have recurring nightmares about losing my iphone. I feel naked when I can't see or hold my iphone. I try to balance this digital addiction with the grounding that I get from daily yoga and meditation.
Before we up the ante on connected life, I want to reminisce on what I miss from my pre-internet obsessed life.
7 Things I Miss From Pre-Internet Days:
Patience: I've had to really work on my patience since the internet came into my life, because while it speeds up access to people, the process for doing business can still be slow. Not everything is on-demand and delivered to you in an hour, our sense of wait time is very skewed.
Selling via Phone Calls: I would frequently talk on the phone with buyers and get to know them. There was a camaraderie that doesn't happen through quick emails and voicemail messages.
Pounding the Pavement: When I needed to find a textile company, a graphic designer, a sewing contractor, packaging or fabric manufacturing firm.... I actually had to get out and pound the pavement, meet people, have conversations, see what these places looked like and how they operated. I learned so much in the process.
Time Management: I used to have a much stronger handle on managing my time. Now, I can (happily) spend a few hours a day reading blogs, news and perusing a variety of social media platforms. This leads to procrastination and occasionally running late-which I hate.
Consumer Attention: There weren't a million different directions for consumers to be pulled. If your product had exposure in a big chain store, you were pretty much guaranteed a great revenue stream. Today, there's endless eComm options and entrepreneurs are vying for a much smaller slice of the retail pie. Remember slowly perusing through catalogs that came in the mail and then calling to order?!
Friends Telling Stories About Their Lives: Now they expect that you've seen their Facebook and/or Instagram posts and know what they've been up to.
My Eyesight: So much time spent reading screens that my eyes have quickly gone from using 1.0 magnifying readers to to 2.0. I will probably need a prescription lens or Lasik surgery by year's end.
Ok...those days are gone but the amazing benefits of technology are not lost on me. I really am grateful everyday for my connected lifestyle, it's just a matter of balance; balancing the absolutely endless amount of consumable news and educational content, shopping and social platforms with non-digital connection to myself, my family, nature, yoga and breathing.
This pace is hard to maintain, what's old will be new again in a few years. We may want to pay a premium for no-wifi restaurants or hotels. We may go back to not responding to emails at all hours and on the weekend...or we may just put on our VR headsets and pretend that we're at yoga.