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Years ago, I stopped into a GetGo to grab a quick lunch. This wasn’t long after most gas stations started using the digital self-ordering systems. When I walked in I noticed an elderly man standing looking up at the menu on the wall. I ordered my food and as I was waiting, and the crowd of people were getting their food, the elderly man was getting visibly irritated. He soon after started shouting at the employees. “I was here first!” he yelled to a woman walking away with her food. “These people are getting their food and you haven’t taken my order yet!” He shouted at a woman behind the counter. The woman quickly came from behind the counter and gently guided him to the ordering station. As she kindly walked through his order with him, he noticed her using the screen. The man grew more furious. He yelled; “I just want a fish sandwich!” He then just walked out, upset, and hungry.
     Technology seemed to overwhelm him. In that moment, I realized only one thing happened. The elderly man didn’t get the fish sandwich he came for. Technology stood in his way.  I do my best to stay up on technology. I freely admit I can’t figure out Snapchat and I’m not the best at Instagram, although I’m always game to post a gym selfie or to see what Khloe Kardashian is up to (that was a joke btw). Other than that, I think I do ok. I peruse the App Store once every couple of months to see what’s new, I occasionally google; “top ten apps”, and I search for a technological solution to most of my business challenges.

      My entire file system runs on Evernote. I use it to store my files, to communicate with my employees, to present our work to customers, and to keep track of what I need to do in a day. It is fully encrypted and only costs me $10 a month (there is also a free version). If a client needs to know what fabric was on a chair they ordered 3 years ago, I can get the answer for them in less than a minute just by using my phone. It’s made my company paperless. I know of large businesses investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to do the same thing and still struggle. As a small business, my only advantage is being nimble. I MUST be nimble. I MUST answer my client’s questions as they ask them. Evernote allows me to do that. Technology is the proverbial sling shot that I need to fight my competitors, most of whom are Goliath.

     Here’s a practical example; if you are in architecture, design, engineering, manufacturing, the office furniture industry, construction, or if you are a customer of any of these industries, let me introduce you AutoCAD 360. Are you aware of AutoCAD 360? If you aren’t you’re in for a special treat. AutoCAD 360 is a free app that lets you view, edit, and leave notes on AutoCAD drawings from your phone, tablet, or computer ($4.99 per month for the pro version). From your phone!!! If you are an office furniture sales person and you don’t start using this you should have to buy your design team lunch every day until you do. The time this one app will save you and your team is astounding. How many times have you called your designer to open a file for you, save it as a PDF, then send it back to you, just to make notes for a revision? Revisions you describe over the phone? They make the revisions and by the time you get them back to the client another change is needed. Some of these revisions may never have to hit a designer’s desk! This app eliminates that entire process if you use it right. It’s an opportunity to smash your competitors with better service! Quicker service! You can seemingly be everywhere at once.

     Another tool I recently starting using is My Resource Library. this is more furniture specific but it allows you to search specific product, finishes, and create your own project binders for free! From what I know so far this is free technology to use for the dealer, designer, and end user. There is a pro version available for a fee. I’m still getting used to it but I quickly solved a problem from my phone using it last week. They’ve informed me there is an app in their future but it is not out yet. Something worth keeping an eye out for.

     The latest stat I’ve heard is that 33% of the U.S. work force are freelance workers and micro-businesses. Technology is the reason. Technology has created freedom for the worker. No cost and low cost apps have changed the marketplace. This is good news for small and large businesses. The small business can now compete, the large business can get more fit and productive. Technology has reduced he barriers of entry to rubble.

     How about you? Will you get your fish sandwich? Will you walk away upset and hungry? Will you embrace technology? Do you embrace technology? What are your favorite apps? What do you use them for? How much time do they save you? What are the scenarios in which they’ve saved you? I’d love to see which ones I might be missing. Please comment here or visit our site; http://www.naturaloffice.net

Brian Marzka