Ari Friedman: Learning From An Expert

arifriedman.jpgAri Friedman is a technologically-oriented entrepreneur with a varied and successful background that includes web ventures, real estate and Wall Street. I’ve asked him a few questions about how small businesses can leverage technology and I think his insight will help you grow your business.

Here’s a bit more on Ari: Among his accomplishments was the creation of, a web-based home delivery business that experienced exponential growth prior to being sold to a competitor. Friedman acquired and ran the Broadway Elmhurst Company, LLC, a real estate firm which bought, managed and sold commercial real estate in the New York area. Friedman also thrived as a business analyst and trader while at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, one of the most respected market making and trading firms on Wall Street
His latest venture is NEHST Studios, which is a diversified film production, financing and distribution company that integrates the most powerful trends in entertainment and technology, headed up by Friedman and industry veteran Larry Meistrich, producer of Sling Blade and You Can Count on Me and founder of Shooting Gallery, an independent film studio.
Now on to the questions…and answers:

How do small businesses differentiate between what technology to invest in and what technology to not invest in.
All businesses, large and small should be making tech investments based on their business needs. Technology should be a tool used to achieve business objectives and should never be used for its own sake.
What are some mistakes you have made in using technology (using it too fast? Not implementing fast enough? Wasting money?…)
I’ve made all of the mistakes. Using it too fast, spending too much on development, etc. The key again is to let the business needs drive everything. Once you do that, you are coming from the right spot. The easiest way to waste money is to rush through the design and spec stages. Many people/companies end up doing the design while they are actually doing the development. At that point, you are in trouble. The most important thing is to design the interface prior to writing a lick of code.
When should small businesses decide to implement technology on their own vs hiring an expert
My advice is to always hire an expert if you don’t have that expertise in house. You pay or you pay.
What are your thoughts on using Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin as business tools
They are essential these days. The ability to reach people and keep people updated is vital and these sites really help make that happen.
How have you seen the evolution of blogs, wikis and RSS feeds and how has it impacted your own business communication
We are in the process of integrating blogs and rss feeds into our systems. we see them as key elements in the business of informing and engaging our customers and business partners. The idea of a collective consciousness is an important part of our approach to content production, being able to reach and understand underserved, untapped markets are very well served by these technologies. We use them internally as well to be sure we have access to the information necessary to run our business.
For those small business owners who want to be actors…what should they do?
They should check out