I use Quicken for my bookkeeping (ok, my wife does), online banking to handle the payables and receivables, and I have a PayPal account just to cover all the bases that the first two business tools don't. You might say, at least when it comes to handling my business's money, I'm "wired".
Then why the rusty teapot?
On my front porch sits an antique (ok, it's old) rusty iron teapot. This relic serves two purposes. First, it's a massive weight that prevents the patio table from blowing away when the summer monsoons come and visit. Second, it’s where Joe the Locksmith puts his invoices and, subsequently, retrieves his payments.
Joe is a great locksmith. Dependable, punctual, accessible. All the things I look for in a professional partner when it comes to supporting my real estate business.
And, it's a good thing he’s so reliable because it's the main thing that keeps me from looking for a more tech-savvy locksmith. When it comes to choosing business partners, those who are keeping up to speed with the latest technology have an edge.
I sat Joe down the other day and we discussed bringing his accounting methods into this century. For about $100 worth of business finance software and a two hour session with my wife, the accountant, Joe is sporting nifty invoices, a credit card payment solution , and an easy to manage computerized ledger, just like the big boys. We celebrated over a nice hot pot of rusty tea.
Before you decide to follow Joe’s lead, however, remember that with great technology comes great responsibility. Flashy pyrotechnics, in the hands of amateurs, will end up just getting you blown up!
Consider these tips:
- Take a Class or Two - Nearly every community college on the planet offers inexpensive courses from technology basics all the way up to classes that focus on specific programs. If these aren't an option, there are free tutorials all over the web.
- Steal (ok, borrow) - I used to send out a monthly e-newsletter (I now blog), and it was pointed out to me that the presentation was right out of 1998. Since I also receive 20 or 30 e-newsletters a week, I found one that looked really spiffy, and I saved it as a template. After a few hours of tweaking, I made it my own.
- Surf - There are many great software solutions that are 100 percent free, but you have to be careful. I trust a website called www.komando.com as a resource for all kinds of digital delights. You'll find hundreds of free tips and downloads, all sanitized for your digital protection. You should also get into the habit of Googling. You can type almost any question and, with a little digging, come up with the solution you need.
- Spell Check or Die - Nearly every word processing software (even email) comes with some version of spell check. Use it. The downside is that spell check may miss some grammatical errors so you still need to know the difference between there, their, and they're.
- Adopt a Teen - Technology is second nature to the Wii generation. Contact your local high school and see if you can arrange to have the resident super-geek meet you at the library for a little tutoring. It's an inexpensive win for you and great opportunity for a kid.
- Easy Does it - Start simple. For some, that may mean just getting your first email account. The great thing about modern technology is that it's very intuitive and logical. Just learning the very basics starts you down the road to tomorrow. Eat the E-elephant one bite at a time.