I have been involved with small business all my life and come from a long line of small business entrepreneurs. In looking back, I have reflected on the reasons we have been successful.
Most articles I’ve read about entrepreneurship stress the importance of regularly re-inventing your business, creating new competitive advantages and continually tracking what’s working.
I believe that ‘innovation’ for the first two points and ‘productivity’ for the third hold the keys to success for small and large businesses alike.
Of course, everything you do should also be measured and in line with your strategic business plan. Entrepreneurs by their very nature are usually more interested in the next big idea than studying the latest project ROI analysis; so any tool that harnesses both innovation and productivity together is likely to be well received.
So what do ‘innovation’ and ‘productivity’ really mean and how do they relate to an app? The first thing you need to do is appreciate the ever-increasing global dominance of all things mobile, of people (including your customers) looking at their mobile devices around 200 times a day. Doesn’t it make sense that your business is in front of all those eyeballs and easy to find, wherever they are?
Let’s talk innovation. Remember any innovation needs to be measurable and relevant to your users including stakeholders, staff and customers. One innovation that works brilliantly for businesses is a mobile app. Need proof? How do you currently access sports scores, your bank, public transport updates, the weather, cinema programs or games such as Words With Friends? It’s through an app. Doesn’t it make sense then to use a tool which engages all of the people your business is relevant to?
In my (admittedly biased view) the only reason an app doesn’t stack up is that the costs exceed the return. So, be wary of paying too much, have realistic expectations, market your app and allow time to let your users and engagement build. Regularly ask your stakeholders what they like or don’t like about the app, and be prepared to make changes as required.
Let’s move on to productivity. Committing to an app involves a lot more than what some 20-year-old whiz kid thinks would look awesome for your business. Sure the user experience, functionality and branding is important, but the main game is maximizing usefulness so that people can do something productive and time-saving with your app.
Let’s look at some examples:
- Say you want to finalise a new staff roster – why not send out an alert and the first to respond get their choice of shifts?
- Overstocked? Why not send a limited offer to customers who can click through to a purchase page and buy on the spot.
- Reduce admin costs? Why not allow staff to look at their payroll history and entitlements and apply for leave within an app?
- Why shouldn’t clients be able to book an appointment without having to go through reception and be put on hold
- Why not allow your members to book into a conference or respond to a survey in minutes?
You get the idea…
To know what will work for your business requires evaluation, which depending on the size of your organisation, can be quite basic to more complex. This evaluation is crucial before progressing down the app path, as you must understand why people will use it and how they will benefit before embarking on the development process.
Finally, you don’t need to be a start up or a deep-pocketed multinational to embrace the mobile revolution. One of the small businesses in my family started trading in 1907, and it’s about to launch its very own app!
Dennis Benjamin is the founder and chief executive of mobile apps specialists AppsWiz and the Informatel Group. He is an expert in the areas of mobile trends, mobile apps, apps for businesses, entrepreneurship, and startups.