The world is your market with online technology, writes MYOB executive director Scott Gardiner.
As we start a new year, it's important for business owners to look at new ways to be competitive, particularly in a fast-moving market.
For small businesses, a way to level the playing field is by using online technologies.
The latest MYOB Business Monitor research showed that 63 per cent of business owners using both a website and social media were more likely to see revenue rise than those who weren't online.
Going digital offers the chance to enjoy work environment flexibility and improved productivity, among many other benefits.
Web-based social technologies like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and tools like Skype have profoundly changed the way users communicate with one another.
By using these tools, businesses can take advantage of employees' growing comfort with social networks to gain a new level of connectivity with potential customers, suppliers and partners.
Going digital (think e-commerce, bank feeds, electronic invoicing, live chat and so on) provides faster customer service and more reliable business transactions. Business owners are able to spend less time producing and chasing paper trails and more time expanding their market and generating revenue. Customers are able to connect with the people or systems they need to contact easily and quickly and access customer support at any time of the day.
Using online tools or the cloud enhances your ability to work remotely and still collaborate effectively with your internal and external teams, which helps business owners and their employees better balance their home and work lives.
Digital technology offers a viable, eco-friendly and more effective method of storing files in a way that does not waste natural resources, clutter up your premises or require expensive storage solutions. Trustworthy, credible cloud storage providers can offer much greater security and reliability above anything you can afford for your business.
Technology supports immediate information sharing, which makes it easier to collaborate between different partners. Think cloud accounting, where a business owner, their staff and their accountant can all work on the same accounts in real-time, without having to travel somewhere to ensure they're in the same location.
When it comes to tracking your success, there are tools that enable you to measure the effectiveness of your online presence and your online marketing campaigns. Often these are much more insightful than those that measure the effectiveness of offline activity. By using them you can tell what works and what doesn't - and make sure every marketing dollar is well spent.
Global customer base
You can reach a wide but targeted audience through online technologies. You get the opportunity to attract clients that not only come from within your immediate market or neighbourhood but those that reside far beyond, helping to encourage national and international success. Going digital truly makes the world your market.