How small businesses can use technology to save money – and unlock growth

How small businesses can use technology to save money – and unlock growth

Posted: Thu 5th Jan 2023

Insights from Enterprise Nation's Small Business Barometer have shown that many of the UK's small businesses are concerned with the cost-of-living crisis and looking for ways to save money as their profits fall.

Technology is one way to bolster a business in a cost-efficient way. Over time, it's shown to not only help businesses navigate and survive through challenging economic environments, but also provide a great foundation for future growth.

At Enterprise Nation, we spend a lot of time speaking to business owners to understand their challenges and the role technology can play in helping them overcoming such barriers. This blog covers some of the solutions and approaches that are available to businesses right now. 

It's all about productivity

In tough times, economic growth typically comes down to productivity. There's no bigger productivity driver in our economy than digital technology. Advances in technology have been incredible, and thankfully we're on the cusp of even more innovation, with lots of technology trends coming together to enable individuals and businesses to be way more productive.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella once spoke about technology being a deflationary force in an inflationary environment. And that's all down to the way in which it unlocks efficiency – helping people do more with less.

But while technology has advanced significantly in our lives as consumers, in the business world there's still a big lag in adoption, particularly among the smaller businesses. Despite a large appetite to invest in technology as a solution to a lot of problems, there are still barriers getting in the way.

What can be done to help businesses do more, be more efficient, be more productive and focus on more value-add activities, which is ultimately why they started up in the first place?

What's stopping businesses from using technology?

It's important to remember that the small business population spans different generations, and one of the key reasons for businesses not adopting technology is competence, awareness and knowledge.

Some business owners are unsure. They ask themselves questions, like "What technology should I use?", "What's going to help my business?" and "How can I get comfortable with it?"

That's coupled with the nature of getting so ingrained in the way they operate – using the same workflows and processes with almost religious fervour, over years and years – that it can take time to invest in learning something new, a different way of doing something that is going to pay off over the long term.

And it can be very difficult to find the time for that kind of learning. There's so much personal sacrifice in running a business. This is where campaigns and programmes run by small business providers such as Enterprise Nation, and on a wider scale the UK government, can really provide crucial support, encouragement and incentive.

How technology can help small businesses with rising costs

It's easy to overlook the contribution technology can make. Being small, ambitious and agile is a wonderful benefit. A key element of using this benefit to its full advantage is seeking to employ and use apps, products and technologies that can ultimately help you work more efficiently.

Small businesses are typically resilient and resourceful. Big businesses often have many more constraints in terms of how they can pivot and adjust. Small businesses, on the other hand, always seem to find a way to adapt to the changing times and survive.

But looking for ways in which technology can help drive efficiency is vital. Take, for example, accounting and payroll software. These tools give you the ability to understand what's going on in your business from day to day, rather than reaching the end of the financial year or tax period and retrospectively trying to catch up and work out what's happened.

Some businesses right now are dealing with late payments and unpaid invoices from customers, which can easily amount to tens of thousands of pounds at a time. And yet the business owners involved may be uncertain as to how they're struggling to make ends meet and can't quite understand why cash is so tight.

Small changes can have huge impacts. As humans, we have our favoured processes and our ways of working, but they're all prone to human error. It's easy to forget things when you're busy and juggling numerous tasks. Putting in place tools that help keep you on top of everything are extremely important, and can often be the difference between surviving and not.

Relevant resources

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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