This article originally appeared on Smart Company.
By Rebecca Colquhoun
If your small business is among those in Australia actively fighting technology, you’re getting in your own way.
Whether used as in-house management, to reach consumers or even to increase the efficiency of employees, tech is crucial to a business’s success.
While Australians have adapted quickly to new technologies, the same can’t be said for our small businesses, says Peter Williams, founder of Deloitte Digital.
“Businesses are tending to lag and aren’t keeping up with the pace of their customers,” says Williams.
“Often this is because those running businesses don’t come from the digital age.”
Historically, it was expensive to buy technology and expensive to hire someone with the skills to utilise its worth. However, with SMEs now having the same access to advanced technologies as big companies, Williams says it’s time to use it to your advantage.
1. Apply the ‘digital lens’ to every part of your business
When people hear the word ‘technology’ in business terms often they don’t think broadly enough.
“People have this prevailing view that it’s all about marketing,” Williams says.
“SMEs can really apply technology to any part of their business.”
Running events, managing emails, managing accounting, all of these can be made a lot easier for business owners who embrace the possibilities of technology.
2. In-house management systems
A smooth running in-house management system can have major effects on how a company runs both from an internal and an external point of view.
Bookkeeping, invoicing and cash processing are all activities that can be made much easier with the help of technology. Williams argues it’s something SMEs push aside because they don’t feel they have time to do; however, digital tech can actually save you time.
“Standardised products can take a real burden off you and help you be aware of where your company is actually at,” suggests Williams.
There is an increasing demand from suppliers and consumers for information and usable data, and if your storage system can’t meet these requirements, that’s when you begin to lose business.
SME owners tend to leave their bookkeeping until ‘Sunday afternoon’, but as our world becomes more and more digitalised, suppliers and consumers want information to be more readily available.
3. The importance of having a website
Having a mobile-friendly website is important for Australian SMEs, with Williams outlining that more traffic now comes via mobile internet applications than desktop computers.
“The good news is that the price of websites has collapsed,” notes Williams. “What used to cost a million can be free on WordPress.”
With customers more likely to check you out online before making contact, not having a website will make securing their business much harder than it should be.
4. Monitor your social media
It’s one thing to have a social media presence and another to monitor any feedback that comes through these channels. Without doing so, engaging in social media can be rendered useless.
“If other potential customers see questions going unanswered they’ll go somewhere else,” says Williams.
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“It’s important not to feed the troll, but to be seen as not engaging with customers won’t help your businesses image online.”
It’s important also to give customers the opportunity to voice their opinions on your products or services, as over time customers “start not trusting what businesses say about themselves and only trust what other consumers have to say”, with the first point of call for that information being a company’s online presence.
5. Pay attention to timing
Timing and frequency of posts and updates,- is important – in the sense that you don’t post too often or not enough and you don’t post when users of the social platform are asleep or not online. This concept may seem simple but can separate the businesses that succeed from those which don’t.
“Timing is everything, we are often told this,” says Williams.
“When you are operating a business this importance only grows as you are pushing your public image into the consumer market and hoping that it pays off.”
Read tips six through 11 at Smart Company, where this article originally appeared.