Start your SME’s digital transformation small, relevant to your plan and don’t be afraid to ask for help

Written by Dinah Turner, Director at Stepping into Business

I recently attended my first Digital Leaders Salon in Manchester talking about why SMEs need to begin their own Digital Transformation now.

I am by no means an expert in digital technology, I’ve been working in it for years and I rely heavily on the brains and intellect of experts in all the different fields that we engage with on a daily basis, but I am lifelong learner, and I will always have a go at understanding something and trying it out.

In our case, we work with schools and business to connect and help inspire young people to engage with enterprise. I love doing this, as inspiring and helping young people to find what they want to do or, are good at, is amazing and an honour.

Just as we teach in our programmes, we all have different skill sets and we can all find ways to help each other generate something better together. There is just so much opportunity to connect and collaborate now.

When I think back to how I saw businesses working in the past without access to so much and it was so much harder to find the right person to speak too when we hadn’t got Google or LinkedIn to help us find them! We used to have to go and book an appointment to look in a patent office to see if someone else had had our idea first… now we just search online!

For SME’s this means looking at their business plan, see where it is they want to go. What they see as their success, their targets and their growth ambition is a good place to start. This seemed to be the key – the confidence to know where and how to begin.

Once you have an idea of what a business wants to do, where it sees itself and the scope of their ambition, they can set out small and effective strategies where using technology can help them.

You can keep things very simple: emails, texts to let people know you’ve had their order; social media accounts to engage with people; websites to help people know you exist. All of these are going to give your business an advantage over those without.

Then what else:

  • cashflow: invoicing, accountancy, expenses – is there a smart app to help you on this? Can this speed things up for you?
  • Are you doing your banking online?
  • Is everyone you deal with doing their banking online too?
  • Are you asking your supply chain to help you work a bit smarter where you can?

Technology can definitely give you time back, but it’s like everything we do, it takes time to learn the ropes and those ropes are always changing too and new ropes keep coming! So I’d urge my fellow SME’s not to be outfaced, to be worried, but to be brave and experimental and if that’s not you – find someone to help you – even if it’s a 14 year old you know!


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