With 100s of 1000s of Australian businesses forced to close their doors due to the coronavirus crisis, small business owners are searching for solutions to overcome the challenge. Could online trade and digital connections be the answer?
While Australia is a nation of early adopters, many of the country’s small business owners have been slow to take up digital transformation. In 2018 PwC estimated there was $49.2 billion of untapped economic potential just waiting to be unlocked by small business owners if they were to embrace mobile and digital technologies.
As the pandemic continues to disrupt how we do business, it’s a statistic worth pondering.
Businesses that have adopted digital solutions are already reaping the benefits. PwC found businesses that embraced digital solutions not only saved time, but they also lowered costs and had an improved understanding of business. For example, cloud accounting solutions cut back on admin, made reporting simple and provided business owners with real-time data on the health of their business finance.
PwC also reported small businesses that have high-levels of digital engagements to have better business outcomes compared to those with lesser digital solutions. In fact, businesses that embrace digital transformation can increase their revenue by up to 20 per cent.
Misconceptions around digital technology have led many small business owners to be reluctant about digital transformation, often relegating it in the too hard basket. However, the majority already have the backbone they need to begin the process. Here’s why: In 1999 only 3 per cent of Australian small businesses had broadband internet. A decade later and the NBN was beginning to roll out, increasing regional business owners access to the web. A further ten years on and according to Xero’s Small Business Insights report, 99 per cent of businesses have access to broadband.
This access delivers business owners with a wealth of opportunities, especially in this time of disruption. Cloud-based apps are providing large-enterprise capabilities to SMBs, enabling them to access a range of systems that were once available only to large companies. From marketing and sales tools to customer relationship management systems to chatbots and robot receptionists, The fast internet speeds of tthe NBN coupled with affordable software as a service are assisting small business growth.
Still surprisingly, Xero reports only 43 per cent of small business owners have a website and only just over a third (34 per cent) are set up for online orders. For businesses forced to shut down due to the pandemic, the possibility of pivoting to an e-commerce offering should be their first consideration. The federal and state governments have made available a number of grants to assist small business owners to pivot their business to online during the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s well worth checking your eligibility.
The bottom line is to survive in these challenging times businesses need to make use of all the digital tools currently available. Whether that means setting up a business line to your mobile so that you can keep in touch with customers whilst your storefront is closed, adopting cloud accounting solutions to get a bird’s eye view of your finances or ensuring your internet is up to speed so you can pivot your business to an e-commerce offering. Ensuring you embrace digital solutions will put your business in a better position today and set you up for the future to boot.
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