For businesses of all sizes getting the right technology tools, software and support in place is so often a springboard to operational efficiency, productivity, growth and lasting business success.
NatWest’s recent Springboard to Recovery report agrees that tech is now more critical than ever – especially to the success of small businesses (SMBs). The trouble is, in its words, “far too few” SMBs are opening themselves up to modern technologies. The bank’s poll of 1,000 SMB owners found only 1 in 5 (20%) consider themselves tech-savvy.
A similar study by Dropbox and Enterprise Nation found that only 34% of business owners with 1-10 employees actively try to keep up with technology trends — that’s compared to 64% of businesses with 250+ employees.
The NatWest report goes on to analyse various financial data between 2015 and 2019, presenting a compelling business case showing how those SMBs that were open to digital transformation and adopting new technologies were two-and-a-half times more likely to experience a 20 per cent or more increase in revenue versus firms who were more technology resistant.
So how can small businesses get more tech-savvy and take control of their digital destiny?
My first thought was what does “being tech-savvy” actually mean? The first definition on Google suggests “...well informed about or proficient in the use of modern technology, especially computers.” But for me that creates more questions than it answers. Do you really have to be well informed and proficient? I would argue that it is still tech-savvy to understand the importance of tech but recognise your own limitations and make a conscious choice to bring in experts to cover to the proficiency side of things. That’s business and tech-savvy.
And that makes complete sense. One of the obvious ways small businesses struggle when adopting new technology is that they often don’t have a dedicated IT team to identify, procure and implement new tech tools.
Small business owners often struggle to find enough time in the day to get everything on their to-do list completed without tracking the latest innovations in VoIP, cloud storage, automation, secure remote working, etc. Smaller teams are usually stretched in more ways than one so upgrading to the latest tech stack won’t be top of mind.
That said, the irony is that that the right tech investments are often transformational in terms of making teams more efficient and saving time. The previously referenced Dropbox and Enterprise Nation study suggests that small business leaders could save up to 150 hours a year on average from using tech tools (i.e., nearly four extra working weeks). That’s time leaders could spend on other important priorities.
While I’ll be the first to admit that not all tech is great (there are some are absolute rubbish tools out there), fundamentally tech tools are there to make things easier for us: whether that’s helping us to collaborate with teams and suppliers better, connecting with customers or speeding up processes.
But SMB owners are still cursed by a lack of time. With so many tools and options available many small business owners struggle to know how to get started.
Techsolve exists to help London’s SMBs with their technology challenges, so it saddens me to see that Dropbox and Enterprise Nation’s study finds a lack of expert advice (35%), lack of information (30%) and high costs (41%) as some of the biggest barriers to tech adoption amongst SMBs.
All I would say is that there’s definitely good, free advice and information out there and when you’re ready, getting managed IT support from the professionals doesn’t have to cost the earth.
The best advice I can give any SMB owner is don’t let time constraints and tech apprehension derail your growth potential. 2022 is the year to get business-savvy with tech as there is no better time to be investing in the future. And the fact is... being open to technology has always been at the heart of entrepreneurial success.
Why not take your first step in the right direction by checking out our London small business owner’s guide to buying IT?