Everyone wants their business to succeed. But for many small business owners, success seems linked with growing larger – and the complexity that it brings, like higher head counts, rising costs, and increased operational systems.
For the many founders who start their own businesses for greater freedom, this can be an unexpected challenge.
However, today’s digital tools and solutions can allow businesses to manage financial success and organisational expansion more effectively than ever before.
1. BE A MASTER OF OUTSOURCING
Business owners should be familiar with outsourcing: they already do so every time they visit the laundromat, call an Uber, or pay someone to walk the dog. For business owners, outsourcing forms the linchpin of any effort to reduce the operational and financial risks usually associated with business growth.
That’s particularly true for digital businesses, like online retailers and ecommerce merchants whose margins rely on covering large markets with marginal operating costs. By contracting providers in logistics and marketing, these businesses can scale at will to meet their customer’s needs. In the same vein, ‘as-a-service’ or cloud solutions can help business owners simplify a range of processes from accounting to inventory management, allowing them to focus more on critical steps to success, like developing new products or building better relationships with customers.
2. OPTIMISE AND AUTOMATE OPERATIONS
Under the hood of every booming business is a growing mass of repetitive tasks and routines. As sales increase, so does the need to track inventory levels, manage SKUs, juggle delivery codes and fill spreadsheets. This busy work is often what puts business owners off from growth in general. Coping with the ever-growing list of tasks requires either more time or more employees, both luxuries for any small business owner.
That’s where automation can come into play. Businesses can leverage automation individually through specialised “as-a-service” automation services, or opt for platforms that combine automation with an array of digital tools, such as financial management, CRM, inventory, supply chain and whole of business analytics cloud platforms.
Global Surf Industries, for example, runs a relatively small operation from Sydney’s Northern Beaches – yet it still manages to sell more than 630 different types of surfing products in 74 countries. The business automates a range of manual, repetitive tasks using Oracle NetSuite’s whole of business management platforms, which gives its team more time to focus on their customers’ experience. Automating the company’s reporting processes alone has saved its team up to 5 days in administrative time per month.
3. USE DATA FOR MORE EFFICIENT INNOVATION
Product launches or venturing into new markets typically require significant investment from small businesses, without any guarantee of a decent return on investment. However, small business owners can minimise risk with access to the right data. They don’t need to hire expensive talent to gain useful insights, either: today’s digital tools should provide the right balance between depth and ease of use for any small business operator.
Some cloud-based financial management solutions, for example, allow for real-time updating of inventory levels and financials which can not only help small businesses match supply and demand more efficiently, but also identify which products perform better than others in different markets. Data analytics tools, including ecommerce and social media analytics, can also help small businesses to discover unexpected insights about what their customers might be looking for, helping them refine their ideas for new products, new innovations, new markets or improvements to customer service.
With access to the right business tools, it’s more than possible for small businesses to reach new markets, create better products, or invest more in customer experience while keeping their operations small, agile and extremely flexible.