Shelba Murphy, SVP of Sales at Veritran.
Following years of the pandemic impacting daily business operations, many were expecting a prolonged period of thriving economic recovery and growth. However, recent months have instead brought new challenges to small-business owners, from rising costs to supply chain disruptions. In fact, 88% of small-business owners say that inflation is impacting their business, and 76% are feeling the effects of supply chain challenges.
Over one-third of businesses in the same report, however, say they are already proactively working to address future risk by focusing more on digital sales and adopting new technology. Now is the time to ensure there are digital solutions included in your technology stack.
The good news is that business outlook remains strong for small businesses, with 64% of businesses in the report indicating that they expect their revenue to increase in the year ahead. In order to raise that number even higher, it will be necessary for small businesses to prioritize the adoption of technology as a stopgap solution amid rising costs and labor shortages, allowing them to maximize revenue, gain a competitive advantage and future-proof their business.
Adopting Technology To Maximize Business Potential
Covid-19 acted as a catalyst for many businesses to upgrade their tech as they shifted to meet customers where they were in a newly digital-first world. Up to 70% of SMBs intensified their use of digital technologies due to the pandemic—and with consumers’ digital preferences not going away anytime soon, we can expect this trend to continue.
But with seemingly endless choices of software and technology to choose from, how do small-business owners know what changes to make and when to make them?
A Few Leading Digital Solutions
Small-business leaders should first look to tap tools that best support their business amid the current economic landscape. Case in point, the top digital solutions adopted by SMEs (ranging from retailers to even community banks) over the past year included digital banking solutions, cashless payments and an online sales presence. As a disclosure, my company Veritran is a provider of such online banking solutions.
These financial digital tools can have an immediate impact on business, serving to boost sales and customer loyalty. At a time when small businesses are concerned about decreased consumer spending and ongoing recovery from the pandemic, retention is more important than ever.
The Power Of Strategic Partnerships
For small businesses that are looking for a starting point, tapping a technology vendor can often be helpful in quickly and easily bolstering your technology capabilities, including apps or other digital solutions, without having to hire in-house staff or build it themselves.
For example, many community banks, which themselves are smaller financial institutions as well as the small business lender of choice, have historically not adopted innovation as quickly as their larger counterparts. However, many are now partnering with providers to build up their digital capabilities, allowing them to boost their own businesses while creating a more seamless banking experience for the small businesses they serve.
However, not every vendor will be a fit for a specific small business’s needs—they must be sure to consider cost, time to market and opportunities for future growth. As long as small-business owners prioritize strategic technology implementation that drives real business value and results, they’ll be prepared to remain competitive and weather the challenging times ahead.
The Outlook For Advanced Digital Solutions
Emerging technology from 5G to AI should also be top of mind for small-business owners as they aim to future-proof their business and drive long-term business growth.
Although adopting these technologies may not be a top priority right now, many small businesses are starting to look into them as a way to provide an improved and more personalized customer experience while streamlining operations to focus more on higher-level tasks. Meanwhile, over half of small businesses believe that cybersecurity and 5G will be increasingly important in the years to come in order to boost digital sales.
With rising demand for personalization, data safety and a seamless customer journey, it’s likely we’ll see even higher percentages of small businesses looking to these emerging technology to solve key industry challenges.
A Few Final Thoughts
Embracing technology and digital banking have become essential tools for many small businesses during the pandemic. These solutions and others should only continue to grow in importance for those looking to drive growth and overcome the impact of rising costs and inflation.
Businesses choosing to make strategic shifts and prioritize digital today will be the ones best situated to see long-term, sustainable success.