Somehow I managed to get the flu right at the beginning of the flu season; it’s my body’s way of telling me that I’m working too hard, I know. However, nothing keeps me from the monthly business development roundtable hosted by the Alexandria Small Business Development Center. This month’s topic was Small Business Technology Tips, Tricks and Hacks, so as you can imagine, it was even more motivation for me to drag myself into the Durant Center and facilitate the discussion. And, what a discussion it was!

I opened the discussion by defining a hack in technology as I always think people misinterpret it as something negative, but it’s really just a quick-and-dirty way of using technology in a way it wasn’t specifically designed. This could be modifying it to something additional, or to do something completely out of context of its creation. And, it gave everyone an opportunity to think about the different aspects of their business technology infrastructure: servers, desktop computers, laptops, ISPs, software, mobile phones, tablets and peripheral technologies. And, all of them are used differently by the small business executives at the roundtable.

It turns out that mobile technology, like smartphones of the iPhone and Android varieties, were the winners of today’s roundtable. We spent quite a bit of time talking about tricks and ways to get around certain limitations, as well as ways to capitalize on the features built into the operating systems and the hardware of the smartphones.

The runner-up was definitely technology’s security, since with so many smartphones and other mobile technology finding its home in small businesses, it’s up to company owners and managers to keep private business data secure. We discussed password creation and management (including one of my favorite tools, KeePass, for keeping passwords in a safe environment), and the importance of physical security and access to your hardware that’s the greatest risk when it comes to data protection today. This was a surprise to some attendees who were quite interested in creating stronger passwords, but in reality, reasonably secure passwords (8-10 characters that are a mixture of numbers, symbols and letters are more than sufficient in an encrypted Web access environment). Someone also mentioned using Dropbox for secure data sharing and transfer, and I couldn’t have been more excited to hear someone other me extolling the virtues of the system (even though they’ll likely be purchased by a larger company any day now).

A great conversation made being on the upswing from being under the weather well worth the effort to make it to the roundtable.

Have a small business tech tip, trick or hack that you’d like to share? Share it in the comments section!

Small Business Development Roundtable: Technology Tips, Tricks and Hacks

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