How to transform your business for the digital age

transform business digital

KX Pilates founder Aaron Smith, The Jojoba Company co-founder and product manager Vicki Engsall and Pickstar co-founder and CEO James Begley.

With global spending on digital transformations predicted to hit 2.8 trillion USD by 2025, it’s clear that the digital age is here. Hastened by the global pandemic, businesses are making significant shifts in the way they operate. As the diversity of the recent SmartCompany webinar panel attests, whether it’s technology, business models or new markets, digital transformation has something to offer every business. 

Guided by a panel of founders including Aaron Smith (KX Pilates), Vicki Engsall (The Jojoba Company) and James Begley (Pickstar), our recent webinar took a closer look at key ways to approach digital business transformation. Here are the takeaways.

Adopt a modern mindset

For a skincare business like the Jojoba Company, going digital seemed opposed to their physical product. “We had a few issues in the beginning,” says Engsall. 

“Skincare’s an experience. When you go to buy skincare, you have testers if you go to stores and you want to test the product. How are we going to give people that experience [digitally]?” 

The same issue arose for Aaron Smith’s fitness company, KX Pilates. “We’re not very tech-focused,” Smith says. “We want people to come to our studios and disconnect from the tech world.” 

The success in both cases was to use digital technology to complement, rather than replace those experiences. For Smith, that transformation has been in the background — reporting, modelling, projections, forecasts — while for Engsall the change was adapting elements of customer experience to a digital platform. 

“So then came content: creating content — engaging influencers, getting other people to talk about it, getting reviews — to give people that experience through the net,” says Engsall.

Digital adaptability for uncertain times

If there’s one thing the global pandemic has reinforced, it’s that digital business models are resilient in the face of change. When lockdowns first hit, James Begley’s company Pickstar was confronted by a dead-end. 

“It was our record week, March [2020], in terms of revenue,” Begley says. “We’re human-centric, we’re about human beings, we move humans around and we connect humans with events — and we flatlined. The bookings stopped and people started to ring us and say ‘can we have our money back?’”

The same experience hit KX Pilates, another business which relied on an in-person experience. Though initially tough, both businesses succeeded by pivoting to include digital services. 

Digital success doesn’t have to mean radically altering the business model, but rather an ability to weather the storm and keep moving forward. “The main thing was keeping KX at the front of our clients’ minds,” says Smith. “Straight away they were back in the studio buying sessions again, it wasn’t ‘where was KX Pilates?’”

Work with the right partners 

To go digital, it’s okay to bring in the experts. “Just prior to Covid-19, we decided that digital was becoming a thing and we really need to join this wave otherwise we’re going to be left behind.” says Engsall. 

“So we decided to employ some staff who could move us along on our digital journey. We recruited a digital manager, some content creators, a social media person, and we just started on our digital journey. 

“And then Covid hit, so we put our foot on the accelerator. We put an agency on for SEO, we optimised our website.”

For those just embarking on the journey, it’s worth taking the time to find the right digital partners. A key takeaway of the process for Smith was staying informed on the terms of the contract — in this case, a third party digital data provider. 

“When you’re signing on with a third party, you never really think about if you’re ever going to leave them, and if there’s anything in the contract about if you do, and how much it’s going to cost to migrate your data,” says Smith. “We didn’t have anything in the contract, so they basically held our data at ransom until we paid in the vicinity of $60,000 plus to release our data and migrate each studio’s system over to the new one.”

Don’t be afraid to get things wrong

Making the move to digital isn’t going to be the same for every business — teething problems are common. The feedback from the panel is to accept that reality and learn from the experience. 

For Begley and Pickstar, a featured spot on A Current Affair seemed, on the face of it, to be a perfect way to attract business. With a website used to 1000 visitors at a time, a flood of 50,000 in one night collapsed the unprepared Pickstar system. But Begley and the team used it as an opportunity to learn.

“I equate digital transformation a little like the current space program in that they just design stuff to blow up — ‘oh we learned a lot from that,’” says Begley. “Then eventually you get out of the atmosphere and it’s made a difference. You can’t game it perfectly the whole way, you’ve got to have blow-ups.”

Watch the full, free webinar ‘How to transform your business for the digital age’ here.

NOW READ: How the pandemic changed change management


MYOB is a leading business platform with a core purpose of helping more businesses in Australia and New Zealand start, survive and succeed. At the heart of MYOB is a customer base of 1.2 million businesses and a network of more than 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and consultants, for whom MYOB delivers end-to-end business and accounting solutions. MYOB operates across four key segments: Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), Enterprise, Financial Services and Practice.

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