Past successes may make little difference. You could be, for example, a superior manufacturer, but you will become a niche player unless you can determine how to adapt to all of the various technology and information capabilities that are becoming increasingly important across industries. And that’s just one example. Ask any retailer, from book sellers to fashion labels, how their traditional businesses have been impacted by e-commerce. Ask any service provider, from cleaners to lawyers, how critical a web presence is for attracting new clients.
But digital should not be seen as a threat – for small businesses and start-ups especially it presents an amazing opportunity. Digital reduces costs and barriers to entry, gives wider access to customers, and enables cheap and effective marketing to build awareness and desire. A digital strategy should be a central part of any and every new business plan.
If you are an established business without digital strategies don’t worry, it is never too late to catch-up. But if you are just starting out you have a great opportunity to be born digital and set your business up for long-term success. It is so much easier to build and embed a digital strategy from the start, than it is to have the courage to move away from tried and tested processes, methods and business models. This is why companies born digital hold an advantage.
A born digital business plan should clearly address the role digital will play in the business from a number of angles. Our model for designing a digital strategy is built around a review of three core areas.
How will you leverage digital technology to boost your marketing and engage your customers?
For starters, a website is a must. Have you registered your own domain? Where will it be hosted and who will design and build it? Have you considered search engine optimisation (SEO) requirements and have you listed the business on Google?
Second is Social. Across all industries and businesses, it is increasingly important to engage and interact with customers through social channels. But which channels are your audience using and where do you need to be active? For consumer facing businesses Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are key, whilst LinkedIn is critical for business to business. Whichever you decide to focus on content is the key to successful social engagement, so make sure you have a plan for developing and deploying content to your audience.
Whatever industry or sector you are in, making your operations as productive and efficient as possible will give the business the best chance of success.
Do you need to collaborate with colleagues or clients to get thing done? Digital communication and collaboration tools such as Google Apps for Business are a great cost effective IT solution that gives you everything you need to maximise your IT efficiency. How mobile is your business? By using cloud based IT systems you can have access to your entire business from anywhere, anytime without the risks and costs of fixed servers.
Are you considering an ecommerce offering? Selling online can be a great way to expand your customer reach. But which platform will you use? And how will you combine it with your other digital marketing and operations for the best results?
Most businesses these days are pretty good at understanding the need for digital marketing and optimised operations, but often overlooked is finance. Effective bookkeeping, accounting and management reporting are critical to the success of any business, and with modern digital tools like Xero can be made simple, quick and efficient freeing up more time to focus on the business itself.
By managing your finances digitally, you can save significant time and cost. Have you considered the benefits of digital finance? Have you talked to an advisor about a service like Xero, or have you signed up for a free trial?