Can Technology Solve The Small Business Crisis?
What has been coined as the “Canberra small business crisis” has caused some controversy between local business leaders, with a number of key people suggesting there is still plenty to be done in order to diversify the ACT economy and offer better support to small businesses.
Traditionally the ACT has the lowest rate of survival for small businesses in the country and a summit was held recently in order to attempt to address some of the looming challenges faced in the area.
One of the challenges cited has been the dependence of local enterprises on the government. In order to remedy this state of co-dependence suggestions have been made that the focus should be shifted towards self-sustainability for the business sector, to allow it to break away from its dependence on the government. Currently a mere 0.02% of the area’s local budget is being invested in business development. Of course, more investment and diversified investment at that, is required to help accelerate business growth in the ACT. The summit was well attended, hosting over 200 people from 130 businesses.
One of the ways that small businesses can become more empowered is by taking a wider view of digital technology and how it can be integrated. And by that, we’re not just talking about websites and building social media reputations, we’re talking about the new buzz phrase the democratisation of data. And, it is very good news for small businesses.
What it does is make market intelligence easier to get hold of, track, interpret and strategise with. Market research, once reserved for the likes of large, budget-driven corporates, has now become universally available, at very low prices. Once one of the more expensive marketing commodities because of its ability to give competitive advantage, market intelligence is now simply a few clicks away. And, when you’re a start-up company with limited time and resources, it’s something of a god-send. Other phenomena like the smart phone revolution and the boost in social media popularity, have made data democratisation speed up even faster.
So, how do you apply these tools and what can they offer the small business owner?
Talk To Your Audience. Brand Yourself.
Client feedback and continuous improvement can be initiated by conducting email surveys to current and prospective clients.
Test Your Products And Services. Service Your Market’s Needs.
Conduct tests and trials for new products, ideas, recipes and packaging to your target audience and make tweaks and refinements and ensure you always have the competitive edge.
Study Your Target Audience. Know Your Buyer.
Track and monitor your target audience’s behaviour and preferences, give your audience access to free resources and nurture leads along your sales process. Create buyer personas and anticipate their needs so you can formulate effective marketing messages.
Use technology to create targeted mailing lists and ensure you use different approaches to talk to your demographics.
Digital technology has taken the laboriousness of data analysis out of business and made it accessible and valuable for business owners, small, medium and large. It has also introduced the era of experiential marketing, where businesses have the opportunity to test and see what works for them, within reasonable budgets.
From an operations perspective, technology has even made the management of remote or virtual workforces possible, enabling business to bridge continental divides and work with people on different sides of the world. Regus virtual offices are now easier and cheaper to implement as a remote management solution than ever. Indeed, what technology is doing is creating sustainable cycles for businesses to follow and grow in, and certainly an option for businesses in Canberra to consider as part of their start up strategies.