The Joys (and Perils) of Technology

Recently, I was writing the third edition of my book, The Small Business Bible. The last time I wrote it was in 2007, and when my editor asked me last year if I had anything new to add to the book – if there was in fact a need for a third edition – I emphatically said “Yes!” When I look through the last edition, I mostly like what I see. If I do say so myself, it is easy to read, interesting and full of valuable and useful tips for any small business person; everything from website creation to tax tips to growth strategies are in there.

Except for one glaring omission.

Nary a word is said in that second edition of the book about social media. I mention YouTube once, and (alas) MySpace. Not a word about Twitter or Facebook can be found. And too, there is no mention of smartphones or technologies like Concur’s cool mobile app. Of course, these were nascent or nonexistent things five years ago, but in any case, yes, I had plenty new to say in a new edition. So when the book comes out next year, there will be a whole new section on social media and apps and mobile marketing and the rest.

It’s all good, right?


My system of backing up my computer is (was!) probably not a lot unlike many small businesses. I backed up, but not regularly. And I backed up to a physical, onsite external hard drive.

As I updated the chapter on technology and backups, it dawned on me (and not for the first time), that I really should backup remotely and regularly. As I do some work with Symantec and know and like their products, I bought Norton Remote Backup. But I was so busy writing and trying to hit my deadline that I never installed it.

Yes, you know what happened next. My hard drive crashed a few weeks later. This, on a practically new, expensive laptop.

Never saw that one coming.

I lost two chapters of the new book that had never been backed up. That is a lot of hours of work. And had I written, “The smart small business owner will buy a remote backup service so that their most valuable data, their customer lists and invoices and documents and contracts, will always be safe”? Yes, of course I had.

So now I am one of those smart business owners too, only I learned the hard way.

Technology has, in so many ways, made our business lives easier and better. But it comes with a price. We are dependent on it, and the lesson, for me at least, is that technology is also dependent on us. It is dependent on us to install it right and keep it free from viruses, that we update it and learn it and use it.

So take it from your pal Steve. Practice what you preach and be good to your technology. It should be good to you if you do.

And if it isn’t, at least you’ll have a backup.  

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