By Ed McLaughlin with Wyn Lydecker

Before you start your business, ask yourself: How will you leverage technology to streamline your operations, improve customer service, and open up new revenue lines? Nowadays, it seems that tech startups are the only ones getting media attention. But many entrepreneurs are launching non-tech startups, just as I did. When you are developing a non-tech startup, intelligent use of technology can create a distinct competitive advantage, tighten your relationship with customers, improve access to critical information, and generate a recurring profit stream.

In my case, I set out to use innovation, speed, and service as the three factors that would continually set us apart from competitors and make our offerings indispensable to customers. We used technology as one of our strategic weapons. Technology enabled workflows, improved access to critical information, and tightened our link with the customer. Here are some of the questions you should consider when applying technology to your business:

  1. How can you utilize technology to differentiate your offering?
  2. How can you apply technology to streamline work processes?
  3. How can you utilize technology to tighten the link with your customers?
  4. Can you develop software applications that provide critical decision support information and new revenue streams?
  5. Can you utilize technology to create a sustainable competitive advantage?

WhenI was developing my new business idea, I planned on applying my high-tech background from my days working at HP to the low-tech world of real estate. I understood the value of systems integration and believed that it could be used to manage the incredible variety of information and relationships associated with corporate real estate portfolios. Systems integration turned out to be a distinguishing characteristic of our business model, ultimately creating a disruptive new service sector. That’s why I named my company United Systems Integrators Corporation, or USI.

Today, the technology platforms available are growing exponentially, and with them, the opportunities to create businesses of incredible lasting value. If you are not the tech person in your business, make sure you invest in finding a good one. Eventually, USI hired a CFO and CTO who used information technology to take our business to a whole new level.

Ed McLaughlin is currently co-writing the book “The Purpose Is Profit: Secrets of a Successful Entrepreneur from Startup to Exit” with Wyn Lydecker and Paul McLaughlin.

Copyright © 2014 by Ed McLaughlin   All rights reserved.