Business owners wear many hats, from HR and marketing to IT and accountancy, on top of allowing time to actually deliver services. Small business owners juggle a wide range of responsibilities, which can become a real barrier to progress and success.
Emma Goode, a digital adviser at Superfast Business Wales, talked through the struggles that many businesses face and what can help.
She said: “Juggling resources is a difficulty that many of the businesses we talk to struggle with, especially at the moment when resources are scarce, uncertainty abounds, and times are generally difficult. It’s also a common plight of the start-up. Most businesses look to source extra hands to pitch in but this is not always viable. How do you move forward and overcome these barriers to allow for greater growth?
“Increasingly we can deploy technology and software to take the pressure off and provide additional resource. Software can provide opportunities to automate processes and manage customers; to save more, to sell more, to provide solutions to problems.
“Sound good? Here are some of the common problems that businesses we work with have and see how software can help increase resource and save time.”
1. A business offering self-catering accommodation
Problem: “I can take online bookings via my website, but I rely on four key Online Travel Agents to advertise and provide bookings, each of which have their own. availability calendars. When I make a booking on one, I have to manually update the other three and my website to ensure I don’t double book. This is hugely time-consuming.”
Solution: “Consider an online booking system that includes a channel manager. This software allows you to sell your accommodation to all your online travel agents at the same time. It will automatically update your availability on all the sites including your own website giving you huge time savings by massively reducing administration.”
2. A management consultant
Problem: “My two employees and I now work from home full time (previously in a serviced office) and I have limited IT skills. I use a range of apps to work with clients and communicate with colleagues, however, they are all different and we spend a lot of time looking for things. I am also worried about security and if I have set things up correctly.”
Solution: “Consider the benefits of investing in a productivity platform, which will allow you to seamlessly collaborate with colleagues and clients, with files, calendars and comms in one place. Invest a bit more and you can access support for setting things up and for help with any issues that may arise. You can often build on the functionality too, as the business grows and you need to scale up.”
3. A beauty therapist
Problem: “I work from a treatment room on the high street. My customer base is growing but I sometimes get cancellations/no-shows and I’m struggling to keep track of treatments my customers have had and are due to have. Some weeks are very quiet, yet I still have fixed overheads to pay for.”
Solution: “Consider software that helps you both manage your customers and provide superior customer service such as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management Software). You can record all your customers’ details, including treatments, appointments and customise beauty packages and new treatments based on client preferences.
“Some software can automatically text customers (providing you have correct marketing permission) who haven’t visited in a while to invite them back or offer a discount to make them feel valued. Refocusing on existing customers can be much easier and more profitable than always chasing new clients. It can also be really useful when you have cancellations or quieter periods too.”
Many business owners think their businesses are too small to benefit from these kinds of digital solutions however, this simply isn’t true. Software solutions can free business owners up to do what they do best.
Access Superfast Business Wales’ free, impartial Software Essentials directory to help you choose the right software for your business or to speak to an expert, head to businesswales.gov.wales/superfastbusinesswales/get-touch.
— to www.inyourarea.co.uk