Powerful ways to digitally transform your small business

The right digital tools for your business will see your business firing on all cylinders.

But a new report has found the majority of Australian small businesses are dismissive or tentative about using digital technologies to assist their business.

In fact, 56 per cent of micro, small and medium businesses don’t value digital tools, despite the significant time savings and revenue benefits they offer.

The report also found that businesses also lack the know-how to use digital tools effectively – but could collectively boost revenue by a total of $385 billion per year and save 22 million hours of effort per week if they start using digital technologies more effectively.

So, what’s stopping your business from taking advantage of the digital revolution? If you’re looking for inspiration to get digital savvy, consider these great ways that other small businesses are bring digital thinking into the fold.

Opt for a user-friendly website

An ecommerce site that’s easy to navigate was critical when bold furniture and homewares retailer Matt Blatt set out to update its online store.

“We knew that we needed to be really easy for customers to come to our site and easily find what they’re looking for and purchase it. Calculating shipping at the click of a mouse was also crucial,” founder Adam Drexler says.

It worked. The bold furniture and homewares retailer boasts 12 showrooms, two clearance centres and a bustling online store, which now accounts for about 20 per cent of its overall sales.

“We’re also avid users of Google Docs and love how they streamline our processes and make collaboration easy among different teams and departments,” Drexler says.

Utilise social media

Social media has enabled a small Tasmanian craft business to literally take her handmade laser cutting and specialised engravings to the world.

Little Birdy & Me founder Sarah Kaye says: “Most customers stem from Instagram and Facebook, creating a domino-effect, which has allowed me to put my brand out there and connect with a relevant audience.”

To integrate internal processes, she uses digital tools such as Hootsuite to manage her social media presence and Invoice2go to invoice clients via Whatsapp and Facebook messenger.

“The ability to connect with customers across social media for a range of tasks hasn’t been possible until now – showcasing how digital tools are being further leveraged to benefit the customer,” Kaye says.

Head in the clouds

Being able to access all business functions from wherever you are can transform your business.

Workwear company Thread & Ink founder Luke Ahearn says being able to access his cloud accounting platform and receipt app from anywhere makes it easier to run his business on the go.

“It changed my life because now I can work from anywhere in the world and still have access to all functions of my business. Also, taking the business online means we’re making just as many sales online as we do offline.

“We’ve smashed our million dollar target this financial year with no external sales person and everyone pays up front, so getting rid of 30 day accounts has freed up cash flow,” he says.

Automate where you can

Automating back-end business functions helped speed up business processes and improve efficiency for online retail site Just Wines.

There are lots of digital tools and apps on the market, so look for opportunities to trial solutions before you buy. This can be a great way to get a feel for whether it’s the right tool for you, suggests the

“Automating functions can help improve your processes and give you the chance to see whether they’re scalable and work well with other technology within your business,” CEO Nitesh Bhatia says.

Use your data to grow your business

Bhatia has leveraged data-driven insights and customer segmentation to send targeted email communications, which has bolstered revenues.

Unlocking data within your business can enable you to target your marketing like never before, he says.

“We’re very focused on building on customer loyalty – we’d rather engage with them strategically than bombard them with communications or neglect them,” he says.

Implement smart rosters or timesheets

A growing number of businesses are digitising rosters and timesheets, which improves transparency and accountability among your workforce.

For example, digital rostering app Deputy is used by thousands of Australia retail, hospitality and construction businesses that employ hourly-paid employees and shift workers.

Introducing smart rostering has enabled Sydney concreting business Azzurri Concrete to save $160,000 annually in headcount and reduce administration time by 84 per cent.

The business has grown from a two-person business in 2004 to employ more than 300 staff and contractors.

“Rostering and timesheets were being done by six people – from finance, to operations, to reception to allocations – it was completely manual,” business owner Peter Martino explains.

“Deputy has helped us better manage our staff, including forward planning for each shift on each site – we’re now a lot more proactive rather than reactive about getting the right number and type of worker on each site,” Martino says.