How to Grow Your Small Business Rapidly with Digitalisation

“Digitalisation – the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities” (Gartner Glossary)

Surveys show that small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are not fully aware of the potential that technology and digitalisation offers them.

Achieving critical mass - a recent case study

A local SME had shown steady growth but still could not afford to take the next step to achieving critical mass – for example, it needed to appoint support staff to handle the additional workload as it found it difficult to anticipate and react to the rapid changes in its industry. However, it didn’t have the cash flow to bring in new staff.

It decided to embrace technology. This began with online accounting which it can pay off monthly and is relatively inexpensive. 

The second change was to use a database to be able to quickly analyse trends with its customers, so it could have a better understanding of their activities, plus proactively propose deals to them. 

This worked well, but what really surprised them was that the database enabled them to store all of their records online.  This meant ease of access for staff and allowed management to quickly ensure that all customers were correctly updated. This time saving was so significant that the business did not have to recruit new staff and was able to significantly grow its administration capacity.

The business is now growing rapidly without the usual cost increases and working capital problems. 

More importantly it has given the organisation the confidence to proceed further down the road of digitalisation and continue to progress towards achieving the critical mass which will make the organisation rapidly expand its wealth. 

Lessons learnt

  1. Put digitalisation at the core of your strategy with senior management embracing it. Often, a digital champion is appointed but this is not ideal as this champion can operate in a silo and disappear down it.

  2. If our doctor tells us we need to take medication for, say high blood pressure, we take it to avoid having a heart attack at some future date. Technology is a similar challenge and if we don’t embrace it, rivals will. And they will soon overtake us.

  3. Integrating digital technology into your systems and processes can enable you to leapfrog to a higher level. Remember the majority of global giants such as Amazon and Apple leveraged technology to grow. 

Improving speed to market, agility, better customer understanding and cost control can be achieved by clear focus and effective leadership.

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