Checklist: Drive Efficiencies As A Technology Enabled SMB

Building efficiencies into your small business from the start will position you for faster growth in the future. With the right digital foundation, you can automate away time-consuming tasks, support employee productivity and reduce operational costs. Become a technology enabled business with this 6-step checklist to prioritise what matters most.

Choosing the right digital technologies for a new business can be daunting. However, making informed decisions now will put you in better standing for the future. Creating a technology enabled business from day one can help you achieve better brand exposure, more efficient processes, more engaged customers and satisfied staff, greater security and the ability to scale efficiently as you grow.

In the new SMB Efficiency Toolkit, Salesforce’s Adrian Towsey explains the productivity benefits that come from a single digital platform that can integrate all of your business solutions. For those SMBs investing in digital transformation, these are the types of benefits that are helping them accelerate fast beyond the competition. Hear Adrian speak on this from the new SMB Efficiency toolkit below. 

With customer expectations increasing and businesses facing the need to reduce overhead costs, starting from a position of ‘what can I automate’ is key to building long-term business resilience. Before starting your business, consider the below checklist of technology needs to see how you can create a digital foundation that can be automated for efficiencies and scale with growth. 

1. Make your business cyber safe

1. Make your business cyber safe

When you’re first starting out, it can be hard to imagine that your business could be at risk of something as dramatic as cybercrime. Unfortunately, the latest research from the Australian Cyber Security Centre shows that 62% of SMBs surveyed had previously experienced a cyber incident. This likely stems from a lack of proper preparation, with 48% of businesses with less than 100 employees spending less than $500 on their cyber security defences in the preceding 12 months.

The amount of technology you adopt means more access points to your business data, which can make you more vulnerable to cyber breaches. One of the best ways to avoid investing in multiple solutions with limited functions (also known as excessive tech debt) is adopting a single CRM platform that securely integrates external applications. 

No matter your approach, it's important to understand your technology provider’s security protocols to ensure they’re up to industry standard and will protect your data. Here are some recommendations for maintaining cyber security in your business:

  • Being prepared - backing up data is good but only as long as you can restore it. Test your backup software and procedures!
  • Not ignoring those software application updates - run them regularly and patch when necessary.
  • Using multi factor authentication or one-time codes instead of a single password to protect your devices and data.
  • Taking the Trailhead module on security basics, covering everything from understanding risks to educating your employees.

2. Become efficient with your data

2. Become efficient with your data

You might have heard about the importance of using data, but what if you haven’t collected any data yet?

First, it’s never too early to start. Whether you have one customer or one thousand customers, you can - and should - start collecting and collating data as soon as possible. It’s this data that will power your business and enable you to personalise your customer engagement going forward.

Secondly, even if you’re just taking your first steps toward building a business, there’s a chance you can already start looking at data around your own work and the steps you’re taking. Look for digital tools that will:

  • Automate collation - Collect information automatically so you don’t spend precious time manually entering data. Think platforms that auto-report your app usage or opt-in forms on your website for collecting customer information.

  • Reduce the risk of human error - say goodbye to typos in a spreadsheet or a paper invoice being misplaced. Take your invoicing online, for example. This can be one of the best ways to improve your efficiency early in your business’s life.

  • Store your data securely and free from cumbersome and expensive physical assets. This is where cloud software can really help.

A customer relationship management system (CRM) can be a powerful way to achieve all of these benefits and can integrate with your other systems so you can build up a 360 degree view of your customer, accessible from anywhere in real time. 

If you've already chosen a CRM, check out our 5 ways to automate your small business with CRM integrations.

3. Automate to save yourself some late nights

3. Automate to save yourself some late nights

Automate and digitise are key to maximise efficiencies in the digital age. Any types of manual, paper-based processes should be reviewed and replaced in order of business priority - what we call a technology roadmap (learn why technology roadmaps matter and how to create one here). 

When reviewing what processes could be automated, start by digitising quoting and invoicing, rosters, payroll and accounts. Do the same for your marketing process. Launching an email campaign, for example? Use a platform that allows you to segment your database for more targeted messaging and automatically send personalised follow ups based on customer actions.

Adam Bouris, Head of Growth at independent fragrance firm who is elijah, outlined where automation is used to streamline their business in the new SMB Efficiency Toolkit

Adam Bouris, Head of Growth, who is elijah
Automation is being used by SMBs right now to support sales, service, marketing, commerce, analytics, IT and more. Every area of business today can have some type of automation underpinning and streamlining processes, so you can do more with less.

4. Make communications easy and agile

4. Make communications easy and agile

Whether you’re communicating with customers, vendors or employees, make it easy for them and productive for you. 

  • Your customers will want to communicate on the channel of their choice so let them call the shots on how they contact you - an omni channel approach will be critical to personalising customer experience.
  • Be sure to set your team up to communicate from anywhere - if the last eighteen months have shown us anything, it’s how important it is to be flexible. Zoom has been the star of the show but there are plenty of other options for staying in touch when you’re a long way apart, whether it’s via video link ups or collaboration and communication platforms like Slack or Quip. Learn more about virtual collaboration.
  • Even in the smallest businesses, unpredictable things can happen. Make sure you never skip a beat with customers by using platforms that offer shared information, allowing any employee to pick up a sales case or a service issue.
  • Share diaries digitally and use scheduling tools to avoid endless back and forth via email or phone about who’s available when for which meeting.

5. Social media made easy

5. Social media made easy

Social media can prove critical if you’re looking to build a customer base from scratch. Yes, this means steps like figuring out your brand, posting regular content and sussing out an audience, but you can also utilise tools that will help you do it in a streamlined way. Social media scheduling platforms, for instance, allow you to schedule posts in advance across multiple platforms - no more wasted time posting the same content over and over. Choose ones that report on the analytics so you can tailor your content accordingly.

It’s not just about being active on social media, though. Especially with so many different channels, a variety of channel functions and a growing follower count, you’ll need solutions that empower you to stay social without spending all your time on one platform.

For instance, Social Studio can help you not only provide customer service via social media, but can give you insights into the social media activity of your leads and customers and anticipate potential issues before they become a problem. Plus, it can help you monitor everything from a single interface, helping you to manage social media right now while scaling alongside your business as it grows.

And that brings us to our next point.

6. Technology to support sustainable growth

6. Technology to support sustainable growth

Lastly, think about how you want to see your business grow and whether your technology can adapt alongside it. Will a solution still be adequate if your staff roster or customer base were to double or triple in size? Will your tech offer consistent benefits across the peaks and troughs of your customers’ purchases? Technology enabled businesses are designed to automate away inefficient processes, support growth, nurture innovation from the core of everything you do. Want to hear from SMB leaders that are using technology as a way to future-proof their business? Get the new SMB Efficiency Toolkit.

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