Small business efficiencies: the need to go digital
Automated processes can take your business to the next level and increase revenue
In the digital age, small companies and entrepreneurs are innovatively changing how they do business.
The proliferation of smartphones, high performance Internet services and other digital tools gives business owners unique opportunities to improve processes—which can save time, energy and money.
The importance of digital technology
Robert Boukine is the co-founder of Noibu, an online platform that allows shoppers from all around the world to “step inside” top local boutiques in Canada. He says, “Whether you are an established entrepreneur or just starting out, the importance of staying up to date on relevant trends and new technologies will help you bring your business to the next level.”
Digitizing your business
From customer service to operations, many aspects of most businesses can be digitized.
For instance, customer service can be improved using automated messaging systems and chatbots. Answering customer inquiries in real time allows businesses to provide high-quality customer service without taking retail associates off the showroom floor.
Selling also includes time-consuming, repetitive tasks, like scheduling appointments, sending follow-up emails and providing customer updates and support. Many companies are now using Sales Force Automation (SFA) to manage such activities; digitizing and automating key processes means staff can focus on activities that generate more revenue over time.
Other companies are digitizing HR, which saves time and money by managing employee benefits, payroll services and HR issues together. Begin with creating an HR strategy that fosters the values your company embodies. Do you value diversity? How often and what types of professional development will you offer your team?
Aside from office culture, building a digital HR strategy that is agile and scalable is essential to be leaders in the digital age. HR administrative tasks like workflows, training and business processes can all be automated, saving your HR team time to focus on tasks that take valuable human brain power instead.
According to Boukine, accounting can also be digitized: “Quickbooks is a must for accounting; they have an easy to use interface and provide a lot of great tutorials on how to get started. I suggest any new entrepreneur complete a ‘value proposition canvas’ and ‘business model canvas’.”
Managing tasks effectively and keeping your team accountable will help your business thrive. Tools like Asana and Google Drive can help you spend less time assigning deadlines and organizing projects. As Boukine notes, such tools “keep all of our ideas and projects organized—this is very important early on when there are a lot of ideas and multiple projects being worked on simultaneously.”
Keeping pace with digital technology trends
Staying on top of the latest tech trends can be a tall order. However, as Boukine explains, learning about them and staying up to date is both beneficial and much easier than it sounds.
“Use relevant search filters. For example, if you are a small boutique owner, you could filter articles about retail and see that there is a trend this year that retailers are digitizing their shopping experience with VR and AR. This will give you ideas and allow you to stay on top of all the latest trends because, after all, technology is here to help us.”
Boukine’s final tips for entrepreneurs looking to “go digital” include noting what similar companies are doing and asking other entrepreneurs which digital apps and tools they’re using.
Boukine adds, “There are also a lot of great organizations that help startups stay relevant with the latest digital trends; in Ottawa these include Startup Canada, Invest Ottawa and Startup Ottawa.”