We live in a highly digitalized society. Understanding how to harness that reality could be the key to sustained small-business growth. Innovation takes time to do well, but it can often increase an enterprise’s stability while positioning it for the future. Here are some essential things to do when figuring out how to use technology to stimulate the success of your small business.
Determine the Most Desired Outcomes
Innovating a business to make it grow has many notable advantages. However, you and anyone involved in the transition should consider the perks you most want to experience.
Consider findings from a 2023 study about how small-business owners and decision-makers utilize digital tools. One takeaway was that 75% of respondents use them to cope with challenging economic conditions. Another 73% reported that such offerings help them increase operational efficiency and save money.
Moreover, 65% mentioned that improved efficiency enables them to deal with inflation. About 78% of those polled connected digital tool usage to small-business growth and overall success. In fact, 85% of participants said digital tools were critical for helping their companies grow over the last two years.
Narrowing down desired outcomes makes it easier to keep everyone committed to using innovation as fuel to grow the business. Growth doesn’t always happen quickly, but when people stay focused on the desired outcomes, they’ll be more motivated to stick to their plans.
Investigate Financing and Funding Opportunities
Exploring how to innovate a small business can feel overwhelming if funding is a concern. Fortunately, there are practical ways to get around that issue. One is to focus on as-a-service options. They typically allow people to pay fees based on how often they use the respective technologies.
Sometimes, the installation is free, so people only start paying once they see evidence of the product working for them. Artificial intelligence as a service (AIaaS) and robots as a service (RaaS) are two examples of products offered on this platform.
Searching for grants is another worthwhile opportunity. For example, the Amber Grant Foundation awards $1,000 monthly and $10,000 annually to female entrepreneurs. You can find similar options for businesses associated with other minority groups.
There are also federal grants to consider. People from government bodies often recognize that technology and innovation are essential for making the nation stronger and more resilient. A grant application that mentions how you’ll use innovation for small-business growth and includes a detailed plan for how that’ll happen could help you stand out from other candidates.
When applying for funding, one best practice is to explain how the technology in question will benefit your company and anyone who interacts with it. For example, will using digital technologies let you increase personalizing user experiences, reach underserved market groups or introduce new products faster? All those things give tangible advantages to your customers.
How has the evolution of ad experience impacted small-business growth in the past five years?
The progression of advertising experience over the last five years has significantly affected the growth of small businesses. The advent of new advertising platforms and technologies has presented small businesses with more chances to engage with their desired audience. Yet, it has also intensified competition, requiring them to create engaging and customised advertising experiences to distinguish themselves. Small businesses that have managed to adjust to and utilise the changing advertising environment have witnessed substantial growth, while others may find it challenging to stay abreast.
Consider Hiring International Employees
The COVID-19 pandemic showed that many roles are highly suitable for remote working. People don’t necessarily need to visit physical offices daily to stay productive. This significantly expands your potential hiring pool.
Maybe you’ve decided that artificial intelligence is your innovation of choice, but there aren’t many qualified candidates in your immediate area. The beauty of remote work is that you can hire people from anywhere and benefit from their skills. Expanding to another country could take six months and be unfeasible for many. However, hiring people from other nations is often more straightforward, especially when leaving the job to professionals.
The associated costs should be well worth it because they make the necessary expertise accessible. International employees with the skills you seek can guide you through all digital innovation phases.
Whether you hire international employees to work remotely or in your office, research the cultural customs and differences between countries. That’ll help everyone involved transition smoothly and start on the right foot.
Solve Pain Points With Your Technology Usage
Succeeding in the digital era means understanding how to use technology to tackle well-defined issues. One way to do that is to listen to customer feedback and use it to understand the problems they most often face. Perhaps people often complain that they get outdated information when tracking their e-commerce orders from your company. In that case, you should invest in Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and a centralized database that provides accurate, real-time information.
In other instances, it may be necessary to make digital technologies a focal point of your business and use them to meet customers’ needs. That was the case for Logisticus, a Greenville, South Carolina, small business that has earned the distinction of being one of the 25 fastest-growing companies in the state for the past few years. The company provides customized tracking solutions for customers that must monitor everything from license plates to solar panels.
The company’s team can build solutions and systems to meet customers’ needs and operational rules. That specialization is a major driver of the small-business growth for Logisticus and an aspect its team members hope will continue to propel its success.
Connecting customer needs to your innovation plans makes getting everyone on board with what’s to come for the business easier. Many people initially dislike change but are more open to it when recognizing its eventual benefits.
Alternatively, you might identify ways to streamline company operations with your tech innovations. Then, people can become more productive, respond faster to changes and reduce mistakes. All those outcomes can nurture small-business growth in the near and long term.
You Can Achieve Small-Business Growth
Learning the best ways to innovate your business and make it thrive in today’s digital era will take time and flexibility. However, these tips will get you off to a strong start in understanding which possibilities are most appropriate for your company’s current and future goals.
Eleanor Hecks is the founder and managing editor of Designerly Magazine. She’s also a web design consultant with a focus on customer experience and user interface. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dogs, Bear and Lucy. Connect with her about marketing, design and/or tea on LinkedIn.