Tap into technology to grow your business
1 January 2012
Rapid advancements in technology and communications, combined with time-poor consumers and the shift to a global market place are challenging the traditional business model. Business practices and the methods employed to interact with customers and with other businesses are rapidly evolving.
Change, although challenging, brings opportunities. Here we look at five innovative ideas for your business to consider in 2012.
1. EXPLOIT THE DEMAND FOR NICHE PRODUCTS ONLINE
Consumers are becoming more aware of where the food they eat is grown and where the products they buy are made. Demand for fresh, locally produced food is growing, as is the demand for high-quality Australian made product. Exploit opportunities offered via the Internet to market a niche product.
Consider collaborating with other producers to set up a niche online site to market a range of products and to provide a richer experience. Etsy, a craft and vintage products online retail site, has proved to be a successful alternative to large, generic sites such as eBay – consumers browsing this site know they will find the one-off designs and individually crafted products they are seeking.
2. TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS TO INCREASE SALES
If you have a mobile sales team, consider how you can use technology to enable your team to close the deal on the spot, rather than having to return to the office to complete the paperwork. Research technology such as tablet computers and integrated software to find solutions that work for your business.
Consider developing an “app” (mobile application) that links to some aspect of your business so that your customers can place orders via their mobile phones or tablet computers. Customers love “apps” and will feel closer to your business by using them.
3. INFRASTRUCTURE AND SOFTWARE ALTERNATIVES
An increase in productivity is the goal of most businesses, but how can a business achieve this when capital is constrained?
Computer software is one area where businesses can save dollars. Research options for software programs where you don’t have to pay expensive per user licences such as Gmail or CutePDF. There are myriad opportunities to access low-cost and even free(ish) cloud-based software programs.
Every business has assets they don’t use all the time – increasingly businesses are looking to connect with others that might. “Hiring out” equipment or infrastructure that is not required all year round can result in additional income for your business, or alternatively there may be a business that has equipment you can “swap” for a period of time, saving you the cost of capital investment. You may even consider setting up an online “community marketplace” to connect businesses with each other as a potential side-line to your main business.
4. A FLEXIBLE AND ADAPTABLE WORK ENVIRONMENT
Whether the economy is in boom or bust mode, attracting and retaining skilled staff is always challenging. Businesses that understand the importance of meeting the needs of employees and can adapt to the evolving nature of work are likely to attract and retain talented employees.
The talent pool is large as ageing baby boomers seek to decrease hours as they ease into retirement, mothers re-entering the workforce but seeking flexibility to meet the demands of family, Gen Ys who want the challenge of interesting work but like to take time off to explore other things and now Gen Z employees (those born post 1990) who have had life-long use of media and communications technology and expect their workplace to embrace this.
Employers that offer more of the same are not going to attract or retain the skilled employees they need to ensure their businesses prosper. Seek professional assistance to understand the needs of your employees and how to best connect with a skilled talent pool.
5. THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA
For many of us understanding how social media works let alone how it impacts our business is challenging. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and Google+ are actively pushing into the business sphere and enabling tech savvy businesses to market their products or services more broadly and cost effectively than through traditional media.
Many retailers who use Facebook to post new stock updates are reporting increased sales as their products are marketed not to just their Facebook “friends”, but to the friends of their friends. Linked-In is doing something similar for those offering professional services or seeking to recruit skilled staff.
Social media is not just the domain of the young, it can potentially offer real benefits to the right businesses that explore the options and understand how to utilise these sites as part of their marketing activities.
Talk to your Boyce Accountant to find out more.
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