5 ways technology can help you scale up
By Zoe Hominick, Head of Business Marketing at O2.
Last month O2 Business partnered with Enterprise Nation to deliver the ScaleUp Series, five inspiring talks with entrepreneurs who have successfully scaled their business.
As many small business owners discover, expansion brings its own challenges, whether it’s the need for bigger teams, increasing demands on the cash in the business, or the ability to collaborate effectively or act decisively.
If you are ambitious for growth then technology can help. So here are five ways that you can employ technology to ease those small business growing pains.
You may be concerned that as a small business you can’t compete with the salaries offered by your larger competitors. In reality, increasingly we see potential employees rating flexibility above pay grade when ranking what they look for in an employer.
Technology like cloud computing and collaboration apps mean that no longer do you have to think of the vacancy you need to fill in terms of 9 to 5, and accessing talent is no longer constrained by geography. In fact, your best people may be able to perform their role wherever and whenever as they can be connected.
Put in these terms, you can broaden your search to include talent that you might otherwise have believed was off limits. How about mothers returning to work? People who have caring responsibilities? A job share? Technology can enable the flexibility that potential employees value so highly.
Managing teams and projects used to involve scores of inefficient email strings and having to keep track of endless document file versions. Technology changes all that. The latest collaboration apps keep everything in one place, whilst putting comments and feedback alongside the files they relate to.
If your people are based away from the office they will still need to access emails, files and applications as if they were there. Cloud based servers are becoming widespread, as well as company-wide subscriptions for applications like Microsoft 365. And your team members will need flexible data plans to access, download and edit files wherever they are.
Technology enables more efficient meetings too. You no longer need to get everyone into the same room, and you can bring virtual teams together wherever they happen to be, keeping your business leaner and more productive.
Best of all, much of the technology has been designed with scaling up in mind, and comes free for small teams, with rising subscriptions based on the number of users.
- Customer service
If the people you employ are looking to avoid the 9-5 then it’s a fair assumption that your customers are too. In fact, consumers engage with businesses at snatched moments throughout the day, whether it’s researching holiday destinations on their mobile during the morning commute, reading product reviews during a lunch break or committing to a purchase last thing at night.
If office hours no longer cut it, then it’s time to employ technology to help. Could you extend your opening hours through telephone helplines or web chat clients? Perhaps you could devote resources to answering email enquiries in the evening, and over weekends? Consumers expect speed and efficiency and if you don’t offer it then someone else will.
- Mobile First
The way we browse and shop has changed. More than half of all internet use is now via mobile, and the average household has ten connected devices in the home. Your website needs to do more than simply work on a mobile device, it needs to be designed and tested, first and foremost, for the mobile experience.
- Accounts and accounting
With HMRC’s drive towards making tax digital, there has never been a better time to use technology to simplify your record keeping and make the management of your accounts more efficient.
That might mean replacing paper expense claims with digital ones, where receipts are captured and submitted using the camera on a mobile phone. Or giving your people the tools to create and submit invoices to clients electronically and remotely. Cloud based accounting software is not only making the processing of accounts more efficient, it is also giving your management team access to a range of financial and management reports that would otherwise be unattainable.
Scaling up your business needn’t mean bigger offices and higher costs. With the right technology in place, and with virtual teams accessing cloud based servers and collaboration tools, you can remain lean, agile and ambitious.
Want to know more?
With Enterprise Nation, O2 Business has created the ScaleUp Series, five events in London featuring successful entrepreneurs sharing their growth stories.