Unexpected upsides to taking your business online
MANILA, Philippines – The fundamental drivers of a successful business aren’t a big secret. The ideas of supply and demand, customer satisfaction, brand reputation and product innovation have stood the test of time and remain as the major criteria for businesses to measure themselves against.
While the goals haven’t changed, the tools used to achieve these goals have certainly received an upgrade. Running a business used to require ample office space, bulky equipment and an endless stack of papers. Nowadays, it’s possible to run an entire business from the palm of your hand (Read: APEC 2015: Technology key to developing SMEs).
This is especially beneficial for those that own Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs). SMEs have a finite amount of resource to work with but is able to respond to situations faster as compared to large corporations. It’s important for them to make the most of what they have. One way of achieving this is by integrating their businesses into the digital sphere (Read: Silicon Valley Filipino technopreneur to SMEs: Master digital tech).
While some entrepreneurs may be averse to the idea of going online, the move does come with certain benefits. Here are some of them.
A less expensive enterprise
Some would argue that for a business to go digital, it would incur more costs along the way. New computers, the right software and a substantial monthly Internet bill are just more numbers to add to the company balance sheets, they would say.
But consider this: the ability to manage your company’s paperwork from your computer can save a lot in terms of time. Payroll software and online banking makes paying employees easier and saves a trip to the bank. Filing taxes online can also save you the aggravation of waiting at a government office for the whole day. The time saved on these tasks can be better focused on core business operations.
To add to this, an entrepreneur can save on office space through the use of a cloud storage system. Cloud storage works like an online storage locker; it allows you to store your files without having to risk losing papers or even hard drives. This is also a time saver; a simple keyword search takes just a few seconds, compared to the time it takes to sift through a filing cabinet.
As the old saying goes, time is money. And in the busy life of an entrepreneur, time is a very valuable currency.
Word of mouth goes viral
Large corporations spend millions each year on public relations and advertising. For SMEs, where the balance sheets operate on a much smaller scale, word of mouth is the preferred choice for spreading news about the business.
However, the old model of word of mouth presents a few problems. For one, the amount of publicity this generates for a business is impossible to measure. And once the degree of separation grows larger, it becomes difficult to know or control what people are saying about your business. While free publicity can be a good thing, bad publicity can be hurtful to your business as well.
Online, word of mouth can be controlled to a much greater degree. SME owners now have free online utilities such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with which to spread the good word about their business. Here, the number of “likes” and interactions can be easily measured. More than spreading the word, SMEs can now also share photos and videos to better promote their business and services.
Beyond sharing content, it’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street. Customer feedback allows a business to gain consumer insight and provides ways for improvement. Social media allows customers to give instant feedback on a business, as well as a convenient avenue to voice any concerns. The measurable interaction also allows entrepreneurs to check if their communication strategy is effective.
Where word of mouth can easily turn into a game of Chinese whispers, social media allows you to control your key messages more effectively.
With these benefits in mind, SMEs have a lot to gain by making the transition to digital. For the entrepreneurs who feel adrift with the idea of traversing the digital seas, here are a few handy tips to help you get your feet wet:
- Invest in payroll and inventory software. The cost is worth the convenience.
- Taking days off for errands take time your time away from the business. Register for online banking and tax services.
- Open a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account for your business. The more eyes on your product/service, the better.
- Measure the amount of interactions that your social media posts receive. Metrics help you to gauge your strategy’s effectiveness.
- Respond to customer inquiries online. A responsive company is an approachable one.
Establishing a business, from the initial idea to the execution, is no easy task. The road to entrepreneurial success is paved with many bumps that would challenge even the savviest of business minds. A more cost-effective operation and a better knowledge of the customer base are just a few of the benefits that come with making the to move to digital.
While taking your business online might not make that road any smoother, it will certainly make it easier to navigate. – Rappler.com
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Visit rappler.com/betheboss for more information.