Small businesses make up 99.9% of all companies in America, a stat that proves that these ventures are driving the national economy. And given the transformations that have taken place at the behest of technology in the last few years, these entities must evolve as well.
Most small businesses already are! In fact, in 2022, 80% of these companies adopted smart solutions to streamline various processes. Moreover, 90% of business owners believe technological resources have made their operations more efficient.
When talking about specifics, 49% of small businesses plan to integrate some form of AI into their operations to enhance productivity and results. It is safe to say that technology-backed solutions are the future for small businesses.
If you are a business owner wondering which smart solutions to integrate next, here are a few that can enhance operational performance in various aspects:
The term automation broadly entails systems, tools, and processes designed to take the burden of certain repetitive tasks away from humans. For instance, a manufacturing capacity that produces different SKUs of a similar product doesn’t have to hire 24-hour shift managers to constantly monitor their machines and adjust their various settings whenever a new batch needs to be produced. There is readily available software to do just that.
Over time, automation tools have gone to whole new levels. From creating complete balance sheets for the finance department through Microsoft Excel to automating content creation and management for marketing departments through tools like Quark Content Solution, the role of automation has diversified. Now, AI technology is even allowing accurate future projections for businesses while, at the same time, taking care of complex tasks within seconds.
2. Investing in brand experiences
Regardless of the industry you operate in, there is extensive competition in every market. Therefore, customer decisions today are based more on the experience a brand offers rather than the product or service itself. How is this a smart solution, you may ask? Well, having an innovative brand that stays a step ahead of its competition in terms of customer experiences requires a lot of technologically-enabled resources.
To determine whether your brand’s personality is still pertinent to the market’s demands in the present era and the things you can do to improve it, use consumer feedback and market research. This will enable you to market your products and services while creating a strong brand that will continue to produce leads and conversions regardless of market changes. Since you don’t want another disaster like the pandemic to put your business in danger, it’s crucial to instill versatility in your brand identity through data analytics and forecasting tools.
3. Make financial aspects streamlined
For the customer of today, time is everything. Users leave any website that takes too long to load, and they do that within a few seconds. What do you think they will do with a business with extensive delays in invoice generation and billing cycles? Managing company cash flows is challenging for many small businesses, especially since the economic aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to pass. Many entities are still struggling to recover from the distress bought on by these times.
Therefore, businesses today need smart financial solutions like automated systems for cash flow management. As a business owner, you can consider debt factoring solutions that allow you to supplement your income by effectively managing the generation and payment of various invoices. Being able to maintain healthy relationships with suppliers is crucial for business survival and ensuring customers continue to receive their products at the time when they need them.
4. Create more efficient marketing strategies
Today’s extremely competitive markets mean that products and services sell based on the quality customers get or the marketing and branding experience a business delivers. Still, the latter trumps the former because unless you advertise the fact that what you provide is superior to the competition, customers will not be enticed to give it a try. Furthermore, marketing today is more about personalization and offering carefully-curated brand experiences rather than just putting up social media posts.
Fortunately for small businesses, data analytics has emerged as a life-saver. Companies have access to readily available caches of data about customer purchase patterns, online behaviors, and preferences. Also, this data is classified by demographics, age, income, and various other factors. By making small investments in data analysis tools, modern businesses can judge and appropriately predict market dynamics, customer behaviors, and other aspects that can eventually allow them to prepare better marketing strategies. There are tons of media that you will create in the span of your marketing strategy. If you are having difficulty in organizing them all at once, do take help from this media storage.
5. Focus on personalization and customizations
Customers these days want a business to make them feel special. This can be through support services, tailor-made solutions, or focused marketing efforts. With the aid of technology and smart solutions, this has become relatively simple. AI chatbots are available to facilitate customers during and after they purchase, while data analytics enables them to determine what the shopper wants. Also, social media and email marketing allow promotions and products to be customized to attract various customer niches.
6. Invest in employee retention
With evolving market dynamics, retaining talented individuals has become challenging for many organizations, especially small businesses. It is proven that hiring and training a new employee is a much more expensive undertaking than trying to retain the skilled professionals already part of
the team. With technological innovations, people are no longer interested in performing mundane tasks. Instead, their focus has shifted toward roles that allow them to add value to a company.
Therefore, another smart solution businesses can implement is keeping top talent. There are numerous ways to do this, including introducing digital resources that streamline repetitive tasks and make work easier. Businesses can also conduct training and workshops that enable individuals to upskill while working at the firm. This allows people to develop professionally, and the company also benefits from their loyalty through rising effectiveness and additional revenue streams.
Small businesses dominate the US economy, and with the global landscape evolving, they are hard-pressed to evolve with the times. Through smart solutions, these entities can streamline various operational functions, prepare better marketing strategies, diversify their offerings, and provide more personalized options for customers. Even the smallest digital transformation can make a vast difference for these businesses.
Waqar Hussain is the founder of The Business Goals. He writes about entrepreneurial strategies and is an SEO consultant by profession. He is a B.Com, GDM, and an MBA from the Australian Institute of Business.