Did you know that the typical small business has an average lifespan of 4 years (ABS 2013)? There are a multitude of reasons why small businesses go out of business but generally there are two key issues – lack of access to capital (investment funds, loans or revenue from sales) and inability to manage costs and all this whilst the small business owner is performing six different functions from sales to marketing to financial management. Herein is the dichotomy for small business… they need to invest in office set up (home or small office), in technology, in sales and marketing and so on, but they need to keep costs to a minimum in order to free up any start-up capital to continue to do business.
Now I am not a small business owner so I can only assume some of the stresses that go along with managing this balancing act, but I do know technology and some of the solutions that can help small business to be a little more agile, a little more efficient and a little more cost effective:-
Don’t skimp on technology – technology makes us all more efficient in that “work anywhere, anytime” kind of way, so business owners need to have great technology available. Make sure your technology matches your business needs. For example, if you have an ecommerce business, you may want to invest in customer relationship management platforms and apps that help manage stock inventory. Those in bricks and mortar shops may want to look into security systems and technology for theft prevention.
Astoundingly only 43% of businesses have a web presence (abs 2013). Considering there are 31 million mobile devices in Australia of which 16 million are smart phones and 11 million Australian made some sort of internet-based transaction last year a digital presence is essential, even if it’s just to have your name up there for a Google search. Ensure your website offers a great user experience, on the desktop and mobile.
And with that technology being multi-functional I do find it ironic that most users still use their multi-functional (print) devices to just print. A multifunctional print device is a good investment and offers a chance to scan and manage documents and information, to streamline workflows with a single touch of a button (scan an invoice, link to accounting software, manage payments) so don’t spend all that money just to use it to print. Oh … and did you know you can lease that equipment, so you can manage your capital better too?
As they saying goes, you are only as strong as your team. When it comes to hiring, find the best in the field and let them tell you what to do. A small business requires owners to juggle many jobs, this could hinder your long term vision for the company. Rely on your staff to help you see the business with more objectivity. Build a solid team so you can work on the business, not in it.
If you want to propel the growth of your business, look into partnering with a competitor. Doing so could quickly expand your customer database, give you access to industry insights and put you in a solid position to stand strong against bigger competitors.
As a small business owner you have to be multi-functional, a jack of all trades! So make you make the right investment so you don’t end up as one of those short-lived statistics.