According to the 2018 State of Digital Business Transformation research from IDG, almost 90% of organizations have one thing in common: they either have or plan to have a digital-first strategy in place. As a small-business owner, you’re constantly looking for ways to improve your business while saving money—so this isn’t a trend to ignore.

In this age of digital technology, it’s easier than you might think to quickly make changes and create a digital transformation in your business.

What Is a Digital Transformation and Why Does My Business Need It?

According to business collaboration app Slack, a digital transformation is “the adoption of digital processes and tools to achieve strategic business goals.” But it’s important to understand a digital transformation as more than just using a few new tools. For real results, you need to change your entire mindset to a digital-first approach.

Today, your customers download music, grocery shop, and even schedule appointments online. Your business needs to be where those buyers are. Reaching your buyers online allows you not only to market to them, but also to collect and understand their online data to give them a better purchasing experience.

Small businesses are specially situated to succeed in a digital transformation. An enterprise might have hundreds of employees and even more processes, making change naturally slower to trickle down. A smaller team, on the other hand, can pivot much more quickly into a new process, and that agility can make up for a smaller budget or resource pool.

A Digital Transformation Framework – Where Do You Begin?

Before you start implementing a digital transformation in your business, establish which projects are needed in your business and which ones will deliver the best ROI. Ask yourself these questions first:

1. Where is my business missing opportunities to learn from and help customers?
2. Which of my company’s five-year goals can we support with tech upgrades?
3. Which back-office processes eat up substantial employee time?

The answers to these questions give you a few places to start your transformation.

Big Impact Digital Strategy and Tools

Once you’ve determined your priorities as a business, it’s time to implement digital tools and processes for your business to flourish. Consider a few of the following:

1. Build a Better Website

In a recent digital transformation survey conducted by Visa, over 80% of respondents said they are motivated to shop at a business with an easy-to-use website or other digital-focused perks. Building a website that is easy for customers to navigate includes telling them what your business is about, supporting their experience, and showing them how to purchase your products or services online. Give your customers a great user experience on your website, and you’ll build a loyal customer following.

2. Streamline Your Back Office with Automation

Identify which administrative tasks you and your staff repeat often. Is there a way to automate those tasks or streamline the processes required to do them? For example, you can bill and invoice automatically using updated CRM and accounting software to avoid financial mistakes, or use automated email platforms to generate reports about how your customers engage with your campaigns. Small upgrades such as these can save you and your employees valuable time.

3. Increase Your Availability

Chatbots are becoming a popular option to easily help customers answer questions when they visit a website. Many customers have simple questions—about hours of operation, services and pricing, etc.—that can be quickly answered using these bots, eliminating the need for a fully staffed customer service department. You might also consider a live chat option for your customers where a skeleton crew can easily answer questions outside regular hours.

4. Develop a Valuable App

A digital transformation isn’t just about digitizing your process—it can also include digitizing your product. If you’re a service-based business, consider developing an app to help your clients. Apps that inform people or help them stay on track with their goals are popular and easier than ever to create. Do you own a yoga studio? Hire someone to create an app that helps customers track their meditations, morning routines, and personal yoga time. Consider what your customers need, and give them a platform to access your product on their timetable.

Create a Collaborative Environment

Every company that undergoes a digital transformation will do so in a different way, but nearly all come away from the process with better collaboration and cohesion. When everyone is working together to provide a stellar customer service experience or increase productivity, it builds trust and promotes transparency in the workplace. Employees subsequently feel more engaged and satisfied.

Final Thoughts on Your Digital Transformation Strategy

Now that you’ve learned about some of the ways a digital transformation can help your small business, examine where technology can help you make an impact in your company. As the company leader, stay focused on your business goals and create a culture of learning and collaboration as you implement business process management changes. Your digital transformation will make your company more effective and efficient—both of which are crucial to really flourishing in your industry.


Our guest author Lily Wachtor is a freelance writer focusing on small business marketing and technology. When not writing, she enjoys reading, traveling, and finding new restaurants. Catch her on twitter @lilyawachtor.

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