I am a very busy person. A typical workday for me (that's in the office) lasts about 11 hours. Add about another hour at home and at least a couple more on the weekend, and you can see my days are nearly as busy as yours. So I try to maximize my time, constantly striving to figure out ways to do things faster and more efficiently. I've always assumed you all did the same. But I was wrong. Too many of you are wasting time. At the risk of sounding like a scolding mother (or a nagging spouse), I want you to stop dawdling and start working more effectively. Now!
How? First, why are you still using dial-up? Every survey I've ever seen shows that most Americans (whether at home or at the office) use dial-up connections to connect to the Internet. While I can understand why a casual home user might stick with dial-up (though in all honesty, I have a cable modem at home), I cannot fathom why a business owner would. Here at Entrepreneur, we use the ultra-high-speed T1 lines. (And remember, we're a small business just like you.) While you may not require that much speed, most businesses could benefit from some sort of broadband access. I don't care if you choose DSL, cable or satellite-it's time for business owners to (as chef Emeril would say) "kick it up a notch" and upgrade to broadband.
Last month I was traveling at the time my column was due. I knew I was going to write about Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) and asked the group to e-mail pictures from its competition straight to our art department. Instead, they e-mailed them to me. The problem? I was on the road and using dial-up. It not only took me one hour and 50 minutes to receive the e-mail, but it took even longer to forward it to the office. That was essentially four hours of my time totally and completely wasted. Imagine wasting that kind of time every day. Even better, imagine how you and your employees could be using those hours. (Dial-up's cost savings do not make up for the time wasted. Time is money-especially for businesses.)
D&B's "Survey of Small Business (2001)" showed that 80 percent of businesses with 25 or fewer employees used computers. Two-thirds had access to the Net (mostly using dial-up), and 50 percent had their own Web site. Of those, 40 percent of the businesses did not accept orders online.
That's the subject of rant No. 2. I know most Entrepreneur readers are more connected than that, but as a general representation of small business, those numbers are pathetic. I'm going to repeat what I've been saying for the past five or six years: You cannot grow a business to its full potential if you are not using the Net. (If you are the exception to this rule, I want you to write me and tell me your story.) In fact, a report from the American City Business Journals shows small businesses that use the Net have grown 46 percent faster than those that don't.
There are plenty of other ways to work more efficiently. But I've run out of room in this short space. Seventeenth-century clergyman Robert Burton implored his contemporaries not to be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Nearly 400 years later, I'm asking the same of you. You can't make money without spending some. You can't grow if you don't work effectively. You won't succeed unless you adopt and adapt. America is depending on you. You fuel our economy, employ our citizens and create the products and services we all rely on. If you don't grow, America won't either. So stop wasting time, and let's get down to business!