A NON-TECHNICAL GUIDE TO BECOMING TECH SAVVY

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You probably queried the world’s data in less than a second to find this article. That search seems like it should be difficult, but it wasn’t.

If you don’t consider yourself tech savvy, you’ll be pleased to know that basic tech proficiency can be achieved painlessly these days. If you can commit to independent learning, identify problems, and accept things for what they are, you’ll be more comfortable with technology in no time. Let’s elaborate on those points.

Learn to learn on your own

Becoming tech savvy starts with independent learning. Here’s why:

There are amazing resources out there for you to leverage

Tech products come with documentation (often video tutorials) devoted to helping you understand the product. You can browse these materials at your own pace, without judgement from anybody. The

time you invest in learning a platform up front will save you from many headaches, pricey tech consulting fees, and general frustration down the road. Best of all, many products mimic each other, making the learning process easier each time.

Tech platforms change, and they change often

Every product you get to know and love will change, so prepare accordingly. Repetition and habit might get you by in the beginning, but what are you going to do when a small change upsets

your rhythm? Exactly – you’ll go to the documentation and get up to speed on the advancements. Once you really master how to find and leverage documentation, you’ll no longer have any reason to fear changes to your favorite products.

There is no limit to what you can learn

If there’s no limit to what you can learn, then there’s no limit to what you can accomplish. The tech community wants you to embrace technology, so you will get as far as your motivation takes you. You can then apply what you learn in ways that will help you run your business, simplify your life, and (of course) show off to your colleagues.

Recognize the problem(s) you are trying to solve

Remember, apps, devices, etc. are nothing more than tools that help us achieve more than we could given our own capacity, so you need to figure out what to accomplish before you find the right tools for the job. Make the job about solving a problem, and remember this when outlining your pain points:

Clearly define problems

“I don’t know who is in my sales pipeline.” This statement clearly describes a problem, and provides a solid starting point from which you can search for a solution. It becomes infinitely easier to find solutions (and for others to help you find them) when the problems are clearly defined. Never, under any circumstances include jargon or acronyms in your problem statements.

Reduce complexity

Focus on the core aspects of your problems. The best way to remove complexity from a solution (in this case a tech product) is to remove complexity from the problem. Once you nail down the

core problems, see if you can solve them using the trial or free version of different tech products. The last thing you should worry about are bells and whistles. As long as you are solving your core problems and improving your tech mastery, you will be ready for those in no time.

Take a product for what it is – not what you want it to be

Some say acceptance is the foundation for lasting relationships. This proves true in the tech context as well. Every product has its idiosyncrasies. Accept them, or find something with more tolerable idiosyncrasies. Consider the following:

Software products do exactly what you tell them to do

This means you can avoid most issues by simply understanding what you can (and can’t) tell the product to do. Mastering this first part (via independent learning) should reduce those frustrating moments of “it did this” and “it’s doing that”, which cause many people to shun tech entirely. Usually, the real scenario is, “I’ve done this, which caused it to do that”. These cases almost always have a very easy fix, and are easy to diagnose with a good understanding of the product.

Be resourceful with existing features

Some fall into the trap of wishing new features into a product before trying to work with what’s there (“If it did this, then it would be much better”). Sometimes these feature requests are

born out of inherited familiarity (from another product) versus a real desire for efficiency or problem solving. It helps to look again at the problem you are trying to solve, make sure you fully understand the product, and try to figure out a solution accordingly.

If you made it this far, keep the momentum going! Send me a note if you ever need a word of encouragement.

Rolando De La Torre, Jr. is a co-founder of ZeeHub, a startup that creates simple, lightweight franchise management software. Prior to ZeeHub, he was Director of IT for a startup franchise

brand, and graduated from Stanford University in 2009. Rolando was recently chosen as a winner of the Young Entrepreneurs in Franchising Global Competition.

Email: rolando@zeehub.com or go to www.zeehub.com