Why Australian companies need to help small business embrace tech


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The last two years have shown that small business owners are falling on the wrong side of the digital divide, and this is about to become a significant problem for many larger Australian companies. Research conducted by Xero showed that 70% of surveyed businesses admitted they would prioritise other matters over upgrading technology, and 60% acknowledged they have been using the same digital solutions since they started their business.

Many of our larger companies rely heavily on small businesses as a significant part of their client base. What effect would it have on your bottom line if just 10% of Australian small businesses failed due to their lack of digital literacy? As Andrew Hunter, CEO of CPA Australia, said: “Other markets made major in-roads on digital transformation during the pandemic; clearly, Australian small businesses need more help than they’re getting to leave the digital dark ages behind.”

Fortunately, there are three straightforward ways Australian companies can assist small businesses to embrace technology.

1. Encourage small steps, not giant leaps

Working with small business owners, I see a common misconception that embracing technology means they need to overhaul everything in their business at the same time. You can address this by showing your small business clients how to implement the one piece of technology that will give them the biggest win.

This helps them avoid overwhelm by limiting the size of the project and lets them see the success that technology can drive in their business.

In its research, Xero reported that encouraging small steps overcomes the perceived apprehension or difficulty of adopting something new. Helping your small business clients to reframe their first technology adoption project will build trust and create more loyalty to your brand.

2. Embrace ‘old school’ training

To help small businesses overcome their fears around technology, you need to go a little ‘old school’.

Many small business owners are so concerned about making mistakes with technology that they are unwilling to try something new.

My experience is that face to face training programs get better results in upskilling and are faster at creating comfort with technology.

In person training helps reassure technophobic people that they are correctly implementing their digital solutions.

Digital literacy and technological skills are muscles that need to develop. Once your small business clients have confidence in their abilities, it’s significantly easier to transition them to online learning solutions. According to the Xero research, clients using digital solutions see increased revenue of 120% over those small businesses that do not invest in digital adoption.

3. Celebrate their wins

Small business owners really appreciate being seen and recognised by their larger cousins. That’s why I recommend a program to acknowledge and share your small business clients’ wins with their digital implementation. When you help your small business people with their technological development, you’ll increase their feelings of loyalty, future-proof your relationship and incentivise other business owners to use your products and services.

Consider creating a community where your small business clients can learn, grow, implement and celebrate together. Research I’ve conducted in my own small business tech club has shown a greater sense of accountability to learning and implementing, and a shared sense of accomplishment when a member has a significant digital win in their business.

Over the next 12 to 24 months, larger companies that actively assist small businesses to embrace technology will be rewarded with increased loyalty and revenue. Fortunately, the small business community is looking for trustworthy people to help them access high quality, timely information. That’s a true win-win for you and for the small businesses you rely on.


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