Recent global issues, from pandemics to war, have only stressed the need for small businesses to take advantage of the fact they can obtain a great deal of agility in the digital realm. Right now, it is easier than ever to use technology to diversify revenue streams and open up new products to your market if you know where to look and how to accomplish such tasks. However, while many entrepreneurs inherently understand the technology and the changes taking place, I regularly work with owners who are struggling to come to grips with precisely what trends and changes they are supposed to be paying attention to.
Should a company buy into the remote work trend? Are they ready to adopt cloud-based solutions? Do they need to move to an e-commerce platform completely? These are not small questions, especially for small business owners who have already dealt with many shocks in recent years. For many, failing to get these initiatives right after a significant investment could be devastating.
To help with this issue, I wanted to give my thoughts and insights gained from working with several small businesses during their successful expansions into and across the digital space. So where should a small business start to keep risks low? Like any action, you want it to be directed and purposeful. These are some of the primary goals for any expansion you make.
Diversify And Enhance Revenue
This may seem obvious, but very often, companies will fail to use their new tools to attract new customers. You will need to take the time to understand the mechanisms at your disposal and the many opportunities you have in today’s interconnected world.
For example, traditional paradigms around advertising and monetization are changing rapidly, and understanding these waves of change allows you to ride them into success rather than be left behind. Many companies have effectively moved into direct-to-consumer or direct-to-audience-based revenue platforms. Independent comic book creators are making millions crowdfunding their books, while periodicals like the New York Times have been able to move their classic physical offerings into a much more versatile and, in many ways more successful, digital format.
Easier communication is also a key tool. Being able to instantly communicate with anyone on the globe can be easily taken advantage of for minimal cost. A digital offering allows you to reach a world of customers, and while it is not always an easy process, global expansion is an excellent way to future-proof your revenue streams against localized issues.
No matter how you end up accomplishing it, the main goal for any move should be to open new streams of revenue from new customers in new areas.
Adapt Customer Experiences To Modern Expectations
Technology is moving faster than ever, and it is becoming a full-time job to stay abreast of the latest trends and changes. Regardless, you should ensure all your digital content, from your website to social media and blogs, revolve around usability, clarity and simplicity. Make sure your UI is easy to use and employs modern best practices. Take advantage of easy payment options like “one-click” systems where applicable, and make the customer journey as seamless and intuitive as possible. A move to the digital space is an opportunity to reevaluate the entire customer journey.
Begin The Move To A Digital Work Environment
In many ways, the digital revolution is happening behind the scenes of business as much as with the customer experience. Companies can begin to make a move to a more digital-friendly work environment with only a few actions. Over time these minor changes will allow you to more easily adapt your business style to employee and customer expectations in the future.
• Digitize your document creations and storage methods. This allows for better accountability, searchability and record keeping. By automating your document process, you can also reduce the workload and remove the possibility of human error.
• Offer some remote work options. Either allow applicable employees to accomplish some work from home or look to hire some freelancers for your next tasks. Pay attention to the communication methods, software used, project management tactics and overall results when you do this. It may take time, but you will one day need to use these lessons when workers continue to demand remote work options. Lay the groundwork and gain experience in this realm now.
• Move certain aspects of staff training and collaboration to a company-controlled digital workspace. This will allow you to interact with employees in the digital space and provide you with the necessary experience generating company content.
Each of these steps will give you a firm basis to expand upon. By making an effective digital transformation over time, you can begin to enhance your business’s efficiency, output and overall agility. The sooner you start, the easier the process will be.
Hopefully, this has helped some small business owners out there see that the move toward a digital workforce and digital offerings can be made in small steps and, when done with clear strategic goals in mind, does not have to entail significant risk. The only challenge is the will to change and adapt to a new way of doing things.