Entrepreneurship is integral to the economy. Research shows that small businesses in the UK are responsible for generating an astounding £2 trillion annually — 45% of the total turnover of UK businesses. Dabbling in industries like retail, hospitality, and real estate, they are responsible for generating millions of jobs every year and can provide valuable input to numerous local sectors.
However, actually owning and keeping a small business afloat is a challenging pursuit in itself. Fortunately, modern tech tools allow you to conduct your business operations with much greater efficiency, security, and versatility. Here are some innovative solutions you can try to help your small business flourish.
Payment Processing Systems
Consumers today have a broad range of choices for payment, including debit, credit, and contactless payment options. If you want to cater to these preferences and gain their business, it’s best to use convenient and versatile payment processing systems to streamline their purchasing journeys. Cutting edge card payment machines can meet these needs while ensuring safety, ease, and efficiency. These are great for in-person businesses since you can choose from various models, including countertop machines, portable machines you can bring around your establishment, and mobile card machines that accept both card and contactless payments. These tools also comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), so you can use them while guaranteeing your customers’ financial information is handled securely.
Meanwhile, you will need an eCommerce payment gateway if you run your business online. These, too, ensure secure online payments and are PCI-DSS compliant, saving you the trouble of figuring out security protocols for your online platforms. In addition to facilitating online transactions, some merchants provide additional features like analytics, recurring billing, and subscription support. These comprehensive payment solutions allow small business owners to make the most out of their investments with diverse financial functions. They also allow you to maximise customer satisfaction by catering to their preferred payment methods.
If you’re unsure of whether adopting more versatile payment processing systems is a worthy investment, note that in 2020, e-money company Amaiz’s report ‘Nearly 70% of Small Businesses will be Cashless’ found that customer preferences were shifting towards cashless payments. Now that it’s 2023, cards remain the UK’s most preferred payment option — with digital wallets steadily rising in popularity. As such, it’s integral for businesses to adapt to changing consumer preferences by giving them more payment options.
Digital Marketing Tools
Unlike established companies, small businesses still have to solidify their brand reputation. Using digital marketing tools can help you leverage the most innovative and up-to-date methods to help you connect with your target market. For example, it’s now widely known that social media is one of the most accessible and affordable ways to market your brand. Sites like Instagram and Facebook allow you to sell to wider audiences on their platforms. You can expand this reach with paid advertising, which utilises powerful analytic tools inexpensively to target ads to your ideal client. These feature customer-centric algorithms to help you reach people based on specified behaviours and demographics. That way, you can increase conversions by driving traffic to your social media platforms.
Some other avenues you can look into include search engine optimisation (SEO) and email marketing. SEO allows you to raise your website’s position in search results by utilising techniques to match your business to certain keywords. SEO Entrepeneur, Steve Grant, who owns Surrey based digital marketing company Figment Agency SEO, explained that small businesses need to use SEO to increase their profile because “on Google, people generally click the top three [listings]”. For example, if you want your business to come up when someone searches for the “best coffee shops in Derby,” you can use those keywords often throughout your website or social media pages. That way, people who search that phrase will find your business easily. In fact, you’ll see that Derby establishments like Caffè Nero and The Caruso Cafe Boutique appear at the top of Google searches for this topic — they successfully leveraged SEO for this to happen.
Email marketing, on the other hand, maximises direct marketing to customers on your contact list. You can personalise your emails to speak to them about products, promos, and other updates. These methods allow your brand to remain highly visible among potential customers and encourage them to engage with your business.
If you choose to use one or more of the methods above, a customer relationship management (CRM) tool can help you consolidate all the data they generate so you can better inform your marketing efforts. In particular, Rubi CRM’s software manages data for sales, customer data like contact information and preferences, and tasks for your marketing campaigns. It can also create reports that let you assess the effectiveness of your efforts, allowing you to formulate better campaigns and improve them over time. With these tools, you can streamline the processes crucial for solidifying your brand reputation and strengthening customer relationships.
With a rapid digital transformation taking place in the past couple of years, the majority of online and offline businesses today carry out tasks using modern technology. These may include digital marketing initiatives, using payment gateways for online purchases, and implementing AI-powered chatbots for customer service. But although technology may make things easier, it can also leave you vulnerable to cyber-attacks that compromise company and customer data. As a small business, it may be difficult to shoulder the potential financial loss and damage to reputation that these attacks may cause. Fortunately, the global cybersecurity market continues to expand to meet the world’s increasing need to secure reliable, efficient, and high-performance digital tools.
Such tools may include endpoint detection and response software, anti-virus and anti-malware programs, next-generation firewalls, email gateway security software, cloud security software, and password management programs. These tools can help with everything from protecting the wireless networks your business is connected to and the emails you send to the cloud storage you use to store company data and the passwords you use to access them. However, cyberattacks get more sophisticated all the time — and your small business may not have the resources needed to adopt newer solutions or hire cybersecurity professionals. If so, you can supplement your basic protections with cybersecurity knowledge from online courses.
Vodafone is committed to doing just that by expanding the capabilities of small businesses in the UK. It launched its business.connected initiative in May 2021 to help SMEs integrate new technologies into their systems, heighten digital skills, and maintain safety online. After positive feedback from over 100,000 small businesses, it intends to expand its services to 800,000 more SMEs in the next three years. This includes dedicated cybersecurity education that can help you improve your digital capabilities, competently use cybersecurity software, and protect yourself and your customers more effectively.
Small businesses are a hefty investment for entrepreneurs. These tech tools ensure that your efforts pay off by helping your business run smoothly.