How to grow your small business by planning for growth.

When you run a small business, there’s so much to think about today that it is sometimes hard to plan for tomorrow. Next year seems impossibly far away. Because of this, business owners often make their buying decisions based on the here and now rather than what is most beneficial long term. Unfortunately, this can often create more work — and expense — in the long run, but more importantly, it limits small business growth.. When you invest in the right solutions, not only can you scale more easily, you actually grow faster. Here are four ways planning for growth can actually help you drive it.

Moving to the cloud helps you scale.

Although the majority of small business owners say they trust the cloud, few actually use cloud-based technology services to their full potential. In fact, only 14% of SMB technology is cloud-based today! Maintaining infrastructure can be a big headache for small businesses trying to get ahead. Not only does the cloud eliminate that hassle, but it also gives SMBs the flexibility to easily and immediately increase the level of service they need. Small businesses growth often happens in sudden, sharp growth spurts. The cloud ensures you  scale without any impact on your customers. And on top of that, you’re able to grow to meet the demands of a mobile world. You can add apps (either preconfigured or easily developed on your own) that expand your functionality without any hassles.

Adding automation makes you more efficient.

Automation is a great way for smaller teams to work and scale more efficiently, however, many don’t do it. For example, only 20% of SMBs use marketing automation today. Why? Although everyone recognises the benefits of “working smarter,” many small businesses growth strategies don’t include the move to automation because it’s considered more of a big company,IT department thing. Wrong. Many of today’s tools are designed so that even the most technically-challenged can set up workflows and automations that send emails, drive approvals, and speed almost every aspect of their business--from marketing to sales to customer service. If you can save time on repetitive tasks, you can free up your team to focus on the bigger issues of small business growth.

AI helps you work smarter.

Most businesses have a wealth of customer data, yet only a small number are truly taking advantage of it. But with 90% of the world’s data created in the last two years alone, its importance is only increasing. It’s more than just big data and big machines. AI is coming to the forefront, taking business growth strategies to a whole new level with strengthened productivity and customer engagement. AI tools can help small companies discover patterns in their businesses and predict what will happen next, recommend best actions, and even automate many of those actions for them. New tools are making it easy for even the smallest of businesses to take advantage of all this information. Start small with reporting and analytics — just make sure intelligence is on your agenda.

Connecting your apps helps you offer a better customer experience.

These days, there are apps that can help you solve almost any problem, but it’s easy to find that a year or two down the road you have dozens of disconnected apps. Information that can be useful to your business — or that you might need in a hurry — is siloed and hard to find. Beware of point solutions! Before you invest in new technologies, make sure you’re looking at apps that can be connected to each other or that come in a platform solution with plug-and-play connectivity to new apps. Sharing your data is essential to your small business growth strategy because it provides the kind of experience today’s customers expect.

Want to learn how other small businesses are using technology to power growth? Check out  the latest Connected Small Business Report.

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