Small businesses are often founded by people who have a deep passion for the products or services they deliver. In partnership with Sage, IDC has carried out research involving more than 1,000 small businesses as part of the Tech-Savvy Businesses Do It Better white paper.
The research found that more than half of all small businesses are started because of a personal passion. The fact that nearly 80% of those we spoke to also say they very much enjoy working for their own business — even when it’s more than a decade old — shows the passion doesn’t easily die either.
But, of course, running a business is about more than following your heart. Sometimes it needs persistence. And sometimes it feels as if administrative rules and requirements are in place simply to put an end to any kind of pleasure you may find in running a business.
Indeed, more than a third of respondents say managing business finances tops their list of most challenging activities; a quarter of small businesses indicate that providing customer support is equally as difficult.
Technology in your pocket
There is an easy way to overcome some of these challenges – use technology to manage your small business. But what technology should you use? Well, you’ll find it in a very surprising place: your pocket or bag. The same phones and tablets that have revolutionised our consumer lives can also revolutionise our professional lives.
Here’s an example: with today’s technology, there’s no need to wait until you get back to the desktop computer to issue an invoice. It doesn’t matter if you’re at home, at the office or at your customer’s premises, with a clever app you can send purchase orders with just a few taps on your phone.
The same is true for recording expenses – they can be noted via an app when things are bought, and within seconds. No more envelopes or shoe boxes full of receipts.
Despite the clear advantages, IDC research shows a split down the middle when it comes to technology among the respondent base. Half agreed the tech they used was flexible enough, while the other half admitted it wasn’t suitable for addressing their changing business needs.
Furthermore, only 44% of respondents said they could access business information from their smartphones or tablets. But there are real benefits to be found from a minor effort: small businesses using online software and apps report higher revenue growth rates than businesses uninterested in such tools.
Steps you can take towards using tech
If you want to embrace technology more within your business, here are three suggested steps to make it a reality:
Grab a pen and paper, and make a note on which day-to-day task in your business is too time-consuming, or not delivering the right outcome. For example, this could be something like financial management or acquiring new customers.
Really think this through before making any investment. It’s important because you’ll need to find technology to match, such as the right app for your phone, or the right cloud service provider. Think small initially and aim to build out once you’ve gained confidence.
What do you want your technological solution to achieve? For example, are you looking to save time, automate tasks or have better access to information? Again, this will affect your choice of technology, with tools such as cloud-based apps coupled to mobile apps providing the best access to information 24 x 7.
Making a choice of which technological solution to use needs to be guided by not just personal preference but also pragmatism. Is the choice you make something you feel you can keep working with? Do you already have the right tools in place – such as a suitable smartphone or tablet computer?
In short, is the change you want to introduce both achievable and sustainable? Ideally, it shouldn’t be viewed as a chore but perhaps even as a fun way to enhance your business – and your business prospects.
By becoming a tech-savvy business, you really can have it all – keeping sight of your passion, staying committed to your business vision and reducing the amount of admin work you do. What’s not to like?
How do you use technology to manage your small business? Let us know in the comments below.