Small Biz Geek is aimed at UK self employed/small business owners with a beginner to intermediate knowledge of design, marketing and technology.
My name is Darren and this website is an online notebook stuffed with ideas. 💡
Hailing from Ilkeston in the Derby/Nottingham area of the East Midlands, England, I’m passionate about teaching what I know and learning what I don’t.
This website has been produced to document my interests and findings. It demonstrates my understanding of particular topics as well as deepening my own understanding.
What Type of Small Biz Geek Are You?
This site is written with a specific type of geek in mind. If you match some of the criteria below, you’ll probably get a lot out of this site:
- Beginner to intermediate skill level
- Uses Windows operating system for day to day work
- Uses a Linux shared web host
- Running WordPress.org website
This is the kind of person you probably are:
- Reader of books, listener of podcasts
- Enjoys learning and digging deep into the details
- Often works from home or remote location
- Might also work from a commercial office
Society is firmly entrenched in computers. The charming allure of digital screens has fast tracked communications and offered up convenience surpassing all predictions.
Whether you’re controlling your boiler thermostat or trading in the financial sector, the varied applications of hardware and software have touched every aspect of modern life.
While consumer habits favour and fuel the technology boom, it’s fair to say technology presents a non-negotiable situation often viewed with trepidation.
The love/hate relationship many of us feel towards design and marketing technology can prohibit us from positioning our small businesses to take advantage of the opportunities available.
Disruption to the Status Quo
The cyber age is throttling the traditional manufacturing economy that the industrial revolution brought about in the 1700’s.
Early mass production led to the bespoke cottage industries of 18th Century England becoming disenfranchised if not completely uprooted.
Does this sense of massive change feel familiar?
Although large electricity companies still mine fossil fuels, and third world countries rely mostly on manufacturing, the age of industry is pretty much over. It has been superseded by what began in the 1960’s as the digital revolution.
Disruptive innovation has been creating and threatening markets for a long time. Henry Ford was able to find a way to use his Model T production line to double the wage of mechanics in Detroit.
Ford’s mass production lines were instrumental to the war effort and changed manufacturing for ever in post World War 2 America. With a sharp rise in commercial output, mass marketing was born.
So, although new developments may astonish us for a while, they soon become part of the norm. Technology is predictable; it will always try to do things better, faster, cheaper.
Think about the following technological advancements:
- Electric disrupted gas
- Aeroplanes disrupted balloons
- Fax machines trumped letters
- Hard drives are virtual filing cabinets
- Scanners have threatened the photocopier market
- Mobile phones have made public phones redundant
- Email has just about replaced fax
- SMS created a convenient alternative to voice calls
- Cloud computing is gaining ground as a substitute for fixed data centers
- Internet mobile devices have a larger market share than desktop computers
- Social media is uniting kindred spirits (as well as sulking teenagers)
Coping with Change
Thirty years ago, USB sticks, search engines, Photoshop, podcasts, YouTube, Skype and iPhones were unheard of. Now these technologies are as common as a cup of coffee.
Unfortunately, monolithic organisations, Luddites and traditionalists always defend the old ways out of fear and nostalgia.
Meanwhile, the innovators, early adopters and visionaries are trail blazing a new world characterised by pixels on a screen.
Where do you see yourself in all of this?
Free Learning Resources
Everything you have invested in over the last 10 or 20 years is changing. Even the education you received is under threat.
Schools were invented to instill compliance in young people in preparation for the manufacturing workforce – a workforce that is being dismantled in our post industrialist society.
Universities no longer guarantee a career because alumni students are being outclassed by hungry individuals with real world experience. The institutions serve us less and less.
A degree is just another paid for product from a vendor who sold you the idea of having letters after your name.
“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune”
– Jim Rohn
The internet represents the largest library of free learning resources in history. Now is a great time to reach potential and existing customers via the internet and other modern communications.
For the sake of survival, anyone running a small business knows the importance of wearing many hats, spinning many plates and juggling their daily duties. If you don’t have the financial resources to compete with larger brands, you need to find another way to make money.
Someone once said, “If necessity is the mother of invention, creativity is the father.”
Using Common Sense Online
There are dozens of ways to get information to help your business, whether it’s YouTube videos, audio podcasts, books or blogs.
It’s highly recommended you take advantage of the excellent free advice available today, but remember to also keep your wits about you.
The internet is still a relatively new frontier. For this reason there are hundreds of thousands of scam artists peddling garbage to all he get-rich-quick something-for-nothing give-it-to-me-now suckers looking for the silver bullet solution to their shortcomings. SEO is a prime example.
If something seems too good to be true, don’t be afraid to scrutinise an idea, proposition or product. Throw stones at it and see if they go through or bounce off.
You can contact me if you want answers to questions without a sales agenda attached to the conversation.
Small = Flexible
The advantage to being your own boss is having the freedom to try new ideas or tools.
A large organisation with a top down hierarchy usually wants to waste time with endless meetings before implementing untested systems. (Obviously, no one in an organisation wants to look bad if things do not work out.)
Smaller, independent firms often feel they have less to lose and are far more likely to embrace innovation.
Your survival might just depend on using novel means to position yourself in the market.
Design, Marketing & Technology
Design, marketing and technology are a means to an end. Whatever a business is selling, they are first and foremost a problem solver.
Design can be conceptual as well as visual. Spreadsheets, management systems and coding are every bit as valid as logos, leaflets or business cards.
Marketing is the process of identifying and serving a particular group of people with a particular problem needing a particular solution. As a result of planning and analysis, the design is commissioned to deliver a specific message to those with the problem.
The technology are the set of tools we use to deliver our solutions. Some people use hammers and saws while others use mice and keyboards.
You & Your Small Business
Presumably you’re working for yourself in some capacity?
Maybe you’re a consultant, one man band or small organisation?
Maybe you’re a shop, office, factory, consultant or homeworker.
Whatever it is you do, I imagine you want to be more effective by decreasing costs, increasing income, streamlining operations and saving time?
Technology can help us with our goals, whether it is software or hardware. Luckily for you, I’m slightly obsessed with these things!
There are lots of ideas outlined on this site that can help you take control or find inspiration. I am willing to share my thoughts and discoveries with you in as much detail and as often as I’m able.