Small and Medium Enterprises accounted for 99%* of all businesses in the UK in 2016, with 76%* not employing anyone aside from the owner. With increased pressure to deliver a top quality (often immediate) service, the people at the top already have a lot of hats to wear.
Until someone invents a time machine that allows more than 24 hours in any one day, passion and hard work only get you so far. That’s why successful businesses are turning to tech to boost productivity and improve competitiveness.
Make sure you do…before your competitors do!
Base decisions on accurate data
It sounds obvious, but it’s not easy. Entrepreneurs make a lot of good but gut-based decisions. As your business grows, however, so does the need to shift decision-making to base it on solid data.
Fortunately, technology and cloud services can help you turn unfiltered data into useful insights. Free tools such as Microsoft Power BI turns raw data into rich visuals that can help you spot trends, and can pull in data directly from many of today’s popular cloud apps. This can help you understand your market properly and, when it comes to expanding or diversifying, not make assumptions that you’ll later regret.
Maximise your billable time
Audio and web conferencing tools are becoming more sophisticated, making it more acceptable to use apps like Skype for Business to stay in touch with clients without having to travel for face-to-face meetings. That travel time can be turned into productive work that is better for your clients and their customer experience.
Get out from behind the desk
A critical capability for today’s businesses is the need to stay productive away from your desk. The ability to quickly respond to emails, update and share documents and manage calendars wherever, whenever is a game changer for many small businesses.
Technology such as Office 365 gives businesses the freedom to work in whatever way is best for them, while remaining connected to their customers who expect fast and highly digital interactions. It also makes it easier to be part of company-wide conversations. Team chat tools such as Microsoft Teams keep everyone in the loop via the same team workspace – from sales people out in the field to the people responsible for the yes/no decisions. Using virtual workspaces can also help you free up physical desk space, and office overheads too, both of which can stifle growth in the early stages of establishing a business.
Transformation does not have to equal business disruption and change management challenges. Thanks to the cloud, IT that was formerly the domain of large company budgets is now accessible for SMEs.
Moving to the cloud also cuts the reliance on your own servers, putting you in a better position for backing up data and disaster recovery. A power outage at one of your locations or a stolen laptop no longer means a critical loss of business or security. In the long run, this doesn’t just save money it also improves reliability.
Learn from what they wish they knew
Technology is a great business enabler, whatever your size or maturity. Are you taking advantage of the latest tech innovations? Staying as connected to your customers as your competitors?
Read more about how five small-business owners stayed ahead of the curve to drive efficiency and achieve success in our What I Wish I Knew eBook.
*Statistics obtained from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.