Starting a business is tough – but if you think it is a struggle to get going, wait until you start to grow. There are a vast array of complicated issues involved with growing a business, and many of them materialize themselves in technology.
Sure, you might think that tech is empowering to small businesses, and to an extent you are right. It saves you money, for a start – of that there is no doubt. And there are improved efficiencies, marketing benefits and a whole bunch of other benefits that make technology worthwhile for small businesses.
The trouble is, business tech is a big subject – and the more you invest in it, the more trouble it can cause. In a report from last year, small business owners were asked about their problems, and they revealed all., We’re going to take a look at each of them, explain why they are such an issue, and reveal some solutions to the biggest tech problems faced by growing small businesses.
When you start a business, the chances are that you get very comfortable with the technology you use. But it is unlikely that it will be adequate enough for your needs when it comes to rapid growth. Let’s face it, there are an enormous array of products and services out there, all of which could prove beneficial – or detrimental – to your business. And given that you need to keep those services running efficiently as you grow, it’s easy to see why it’s such a huge concern. The results are clear – roadblocks in your productivity, and wasting money on the wrong technology. It is vital that you are careful when introducing new tech, and ensure you have the employees in place to handle the change.
But what happens if you don’t have the staff on hand to use your tech efficiently? Most businesses tend to outsource their IT systems at some point, which removes the problem and hands over the reins to a partner with the right level of experience. However, small businesses owners suggest that finding the right people to work with can prove tricky – and it’s the second most significant issue they face. The solution is to ensure you go through a period of due diligence with any potential partner. Whether you are looking for a consultant, staffing services, or outsourcing your entire IT system to a cloud-based partner, it is essential to do your homework. With the right technology partner, all of your problems can disappear overnight, but if you go for a cheap, inexperienced, and unsupportive alternative, it could cost you your business.
Connectivity for employees
The modern business is a very different beast to what it was a decade or so ago. Flexibility is critical when it comes to technology, and employers want their staff to be accessible and connected as much as possible. Employees need to access systems from wherever they are in the country, even from their own homes. And while there are plenty of technologies that can help you achieve this, security is a big issue that cannot be ignored. Ultimately, the more connectivity you encourage throughout your business, the more open you are to hacking, malware and security breaches. It means that as you grow more prominent, more effort is required to educate employees on Internet and technology security policies, as well as investing in rigorous and robust protection.
When you expand a business from national to international, you can’t expect customers in your new territories to pay for your goods in your currency. It’s the same principal for growing a business online – if you want to attract more customers, you have to be able to be compatible to what they need. This point stands for everything from taking payments – think Paypal as well as debit card, for example – through to the devices and technology our potential customers use. For instance, if you have a desktop-oriented website, you’ll need to do some work to make sure you appeal to a mobile audience, too – which makes up over half of all web users.
The scale of technology
The sheer volume of products, devices, and software for businesses can make it easy for things to get out of hand for your company. And it’s a big issue for small businesses, especially when it comes to growing successfully. When you are a small business, you can kind of get away with allowing employees a lot of flexibility when it comes to using software of choice, for example. But when you are operating on a larger scale than before, it’s vital that you get some kind of grip on things. Whether it’s tracking productivity, keeping your systems secure, or just having a methodized way of working, giving your employees too much choice and freedom is often untenable. It’s vital to have a system, rules, and processes in place that help you deal with the variety of products used by anyone that works for your business.
It’s not just your employees and customers you need to worry about when it comes to compatibility, either. The systems you have in place to place orders from vendors and suppliers will also need your close attention. As a small business, you might have gotten away with handwritten orders or placing the occasional fax to your suppliers. But you haven’t a hope in the world of doing this as you get bigger. Inventory management becomes a much more complicated issue, too, and that supply chain needs to be kept well-greased and as free from friction as possible. Scaling up your ordering is such a critical process, and it is essential that you have a system that ties in and is compatible with your vendors, or things will unravel quicker than you can say ‘out of stock.’
Whatever line of business you are in, technology provides some incredible solutions for making you more productive, more efficient, and better at saving money. But the tech you choose now can have a significant impact on your chances of success when it comes to growth. Be careful, plan well, and good luck!