During the Atlanta Basecamp popup, we caught up with Laurie McCabe, co-founder and partner at SMB Group, to chat about small business opportunities, technology, and innovation. Take a look at Laurie’s interesting perspectives on what’s driving SMBs today.
A: SMBs have many of the same challenges as bigger companies. They want to attract new customers, grow revenue, and improve the customer experience — all while becoming more profitable. They also have many of the same opportunities as bigger companies. If they can work smarter, they can be more focused on activities that move the needle with customers. Many growing businesses find they’ve invested in a lot of point solutions that worked great while they were small, but aren’t able to do the job as they’ve gotten bigger. As the pressure to be more efficient grows, a disconnected way of doing things no longer works.
A: Using technology to help them move the business needle is one the biggest opportunities for SMBs. For instance, if they can use technology solutions to streamline repetitive tasks--such as expense reporting or time sheets--they can save time and focus on higher value work. Or if they use a solution that helps them to engage more easily with their customers, it can help them grow the business. The catch is that there are so many technology products for SMBs available today, so it can be difficult to figure out the one that’s going to work best to help them address the problem that they want to solve. It can also be tough to prioritize, which area should I address first. SMBs need the solution with the most benefit and the least angst, but they can’t always find it.
A: It’s really hard for a small business that doesn’t have a lot of expertise in a certain area to choose the right solution for that area. For example, if you want to choose a product for integrating your data you need to have some IT expertise — but many small businesses don’t. When small businesses look for a solution for a certain area of their businesses, they need to get some expert guidance to figure out which business processes are broken and how to fix them. Consider accounting. Many small businesses start by managing their finances through spreadsheets. If you want to get a new financial solution, it’s smart to start by asking your accountant to recommend a few solutions and help them select the best fit for them. Sometimes SMBs have employees that worked with a particular solution in the past in another company, and they can also be great sources of feedback (both bad and good).
A: First, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to be a hot Silicon Valley startup to be an innovator. It’s not just the Apples and Amazons of the world that are innovative. The owner of my hair salon promotes her business in some really innovative ways, using Facebook to promote special offers and showcase new looks and products, and SMS solutions for appointment scheduling and reminders. She’s not aspiring to take over the world, but she’s very creative. And she does great hair, too.
The whole point of innovation in business is to find ways to be creative that will help you to better connect to and delight your customers. To do that, you need to look at how customers feel about you and how you stack up against your competition. Are you doing what customers want? Are they coming back? After benchmarking yourself with customers and competitors, you can identify the gaps and then think of creative ways to close them.
Check out Laurie's full report on the 3 Technology Trends Driving Small Business Growth in this interactive infographic:
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