Creativity is the name of the game. At least this is the case for Ashia Sims, the founding curator for Atlanta’s Women Interactive Creative Technology Festival, chief content manager for Girl Genius Productions, and chief content creator for Clueless Fashionista.
Sims earned her MBA from Oglethorpe University in 2006 and began working in the arts industry including stints with American Idol, Hell Date, and ECG Productions. She has taken her more-than-a-decade’s worth of industry knowledge and applied it to her own initiatives – mainly online.
In the ever changing world of business, the online format has taken to the forefront. Sims gives her advice on the benefits of starting a business online.
Q: Most of what you do in business is online; what are some of the benefits of working through online outlets that many people may not know?
Sims: “Working online can really increase productivity. With the advent of things like video chat and task management programs like Asana, it’s very possible to maintain regular communication with team members without having to leave your desk/office. In the past, I’ve found that in-person meetings and conference calls could really cut into my productivity. Making these things virtual has been invaluable in that area. This is something that many people may know but may not often consider.”
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Q: For online entrepreneurs, how does the MBA come into play?
Sims: “Having an MBA is valuable regardless of the type of business you own. When I was going through my MBA program, I got a lot of great insight into the different areas of business that apply to all business types. Even though online businesses may not exist in the physical space, the digital space is a world of its own. Your website is your company’s digital office and it must be run just as efficiently as an offline office.”
Q: Online businesses are no longer the wave of the future, but a mainstay for the present. For entrepreneurs looking to begin businesses online, what are some of the challenges they can expect to encounter that they may not run into with a traditional business? And how can they confront these challenges successfully?
Sims: “One of the biggest issues with having an online business is information overload and staying focused. The Internet is a great resource and can help online entrepreneurs build a business with little overhead but it can also be a big time suck when you go down the rabbit holes that often pop up. Even if you’re not spending all day on Facebook, doing valid research for your business can stop you from actually building and doing your business which is just as bad. One way to cut down on the Internet time issue is to do a few things:
- Use a browser that you don’t have a lot of bookmarks in. I often use Google Chrome because all of my bookmarks are in Firefox. So my browser history isn’t full of information I want to read and I can focus on the task at hand.
- Don’t open any windows you don’t need. I have a bad habit of having 10 or more tabs open on my computer. When I need to focus on one task, I will only open that program tab so I’m not tempted to do anything else.
- Change your social media settings so things don’t pop up and distract you. I love Tweetdeck and think it’s a wonderful tool for keeping up with my different twitter profiles but it has a feature where a box will pop up when a new tweet comes in. This is good when I want to keep an eye on my Twitter feeds and participate in the conversations. This isn’t so good when I need to focus on a task and that little box keeps popping up and chiming into my thoughts.”
Q: Even for entrepreneurs not looking to begin an online business, how important is it for them to have a good knowledge base with technology?
Sims: “The wonderful thing about all of the new technology that has been created in the last few years is that it makes the cost of starting a business much more accessible. Even if your business is brick and mortar, having a good technology knowledge base is key. It will give you the ability to make your business run as efficiently as possible. Plus, hiring employees can sometimes be cost prohibitive for new entrepreneurs and having a strong technology base can do what is otherwise scientifically impossible; put you in more than one place at a time.”
Follow Dustin Bass on Twitter @dustincbass.