Recently, we were proud to sponsor Queensland Small Business Week, which celebrates the vital contribution small business makes to Queensland’s vibrant economy every year. At Vodafone, we’re passionate about helping small businesses succeed in a rapidly changing landscape, and it was incredible to be part of such an inspiring event this year.
I was lucky enough to sit on a panel about the next wave of change coming for small businesses with Cat Matson, Chief Digital Officer of the City of Brisbane, Stephen Scheeler, Special Adviser to PWC, and David Fagan, Author of “Wake up – the 9 Hashtags of Digital Disruption”. As part of the panel I discussed how successful businesses are making the most of technology to drive them into the future.
Now more than ever, businesses operate in a world that has moved from one of relative stability to one of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, often referred to by the acronym VUCA.
The global village many businesses compete in is constantly changing and creating a bombardment of messaging to customers. It’s also created even more pressure for small businesses to operate within the expectations normally reserved for larger businesses. They now need to be, or need to appear to be, ‘always on’, super responsive, and agile.
Small business resources, big business expectations
From SOHO to micro-business, small business and SMEs, technology has increased customer demand to a point where being ‘always on’ is an expectation. In fact, ‘always being on’ aligns with a disruption hashtag my fellow panellist David Fagan cleverly coined, ‘#intouch’. In my opinion, this is closely related to ‘#wherethehelldidmylifego’? Rather than being a disruptive tool for business, being ‘always on’ is a disruption to a SMB owner’s life!
Here’s some proof – according to Suncorp’s SME vs Me Report, a quarter of SMB owners are working 60+ hours a week while only a third are happy with their work-life balance. For small business owners, it’s the pressure of business that is disrupting their lives. At Vodafone, we try to help get the balance back in our business customers’ lives by making technology work for SMEs, rather than small business owners having to sweat about the tech they need to stay ahead of disruption.
That’s why we always stress the importance of personalised service for small businesses. Getting someone at the other end of the phone that can often just fix things makes all the difference, especially when a business owner’s time can be better spent growing or managing their business. This is where outsourcing, subscribing to or partnering on technology can make a massive difference. Sure, a few bucks can be saved by doing it all yourself, but at what monetary cost and increase in blood pressure?
The biggest opportunity for small businesses in 2018
Right now, it’s most important for small businesses to be not only surviving, but also ready for what is hopefully an exciting future. This means being a business that’s geared up to either disrupt, or wade through disruption.
Being a business that’s future-ready doesn’t just mean having everything running off cloud-based, subscription programs (even though that can take a huge load off). It means having a culture of open-mindedness and processes that allow people to be agile in bringing new ways of thinking and technology.
It also means being critical of new trends before adopting them, so as not to end up with a patchwork quilt of tools and products that can mean you spend more time, not less, on your business back-end. This time can be better spent on your business front-end.
Global competition and changing habits in Australia can impact business future-readiness. A big example is cash becoming increasingly obsolete and small businesses needing to harness the electronic payment trends. Taking the time to stay across these trends, or build a network to have a trusted advisor to lean on, helps small businesses harness the trends for business benefit, not just jump onto the latest fads.
A lot of micro-businesses struggle with cash flow, and if they can’t accept on-the-spot electronic payments, they waste time debt collecting – working in the business – than they do carrying out tasks that could be growing their business. This is a clear example of missing an opportunity by not being able to keep up with new behaviours (eg PayWave and Square Reader payments) that larger, more established competitors can adopt more readily.
While it is almost impossible to totally overcome the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity that is a mainstay of the modern business environment, readying your business to ride through disruption into the future will help prepare for change.
Prepare your business for the future with Vodafone
Ready to get the personal support you need with a Personal Account Manager? If you’re a small business with 10 or more connections, check out our business plans and give our team a call today on 1300 111 111. Alternatively, you can leave your details in the form below and our team will organise a call back to talk through your needs.
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