The Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index gives some serious evidence to the importance of small businesses prioritising digital skills. In this post Shelley Rostlund, Digital Consultant at Harbour 32 gives you some headlines on what this report highlights for you.
This was a long report to work through, but it was an incredible insight into two things for me:
- That those that take the time and money to invest in digital skills and tools – definitively reap the long term rewards; and
- there is scarily high number of small businesses who have still NOT invested in digital skills training.
What is categorised as ‘digital skills’?
This can cover a variety of elements – but broadly speaking – its about improving and enhancing your workforce’s ability to use tools, hardware and software to help them function more efficiently in the running of your business. This covers using things like:
- A customer relationship management (CRM) system (like CapsuleCRM, SalesForce, or others)
- VoIP systems to communicate with customers, suppliers or contractors (like Skype)
- Project management systems to manage processes, tasks or people (like Asana, Basecamp, TeamWork, etc)
- Cyber security
- Smarter email marketing systems (than Outlook), like Mailchimp or Infusionsoft (which is also a CRM system)
- Online payment systems
- Web based accounting systems (like Xero or Kashflow)
- Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram
- Social media management tools like Sprout Social, Hootsuite or Agorapulse
And many more.
What is the link between ‘digital’ and business performance?
Most business owners would (should) weigh up what they invest in, based on the return. The return however is very different for different types of investment, as you can well imagine. In the Lloyds report, they have gathered some interesting outcomes for those business who do indeed prioritise their digital skills training investment. Here are two that stood out for me:
- 65% of small business owners use digital to reduce their costs
- the small businesses who were most digitally capable, were three times as likely to report an increase in turnover (compared to those that were less digital). Note – this is up from twice as likely in 2016.
The benefits of having digital skills in-house
My business is a small business, so I can speak from experience, when I say that as soon as we spent the time restructuring our business in terms of tools – we doubled our turnover. Now, it wasn’t the only thing we did. But we had to centralise our knowledge and create template processes and streamline how we do what we do, in order to bring on new team members.
In order to shorten your on-boarding time for new team members – the best thing you can do is look at systems and processes. Plus you get a lot more focussed on what you should be focussed on i.e. the service to your clients or customers (and not on picking up the pieces of an admin mess around you).
The benefits of bringing more digital skills in-house – or at the very least working with a digital partner who can help you through this are:
- An increase in revenue. You are able to deliver more in the same about of time, because you are more streamlined and efficient.
- Money saving. By being more efficient and also using tools and systems to help you, you will very quickly work out where you are losing money in terms of time or resource.
- You reach a wider audience. By using social media you will be open to reaching many more people that you would going out and only doing face to face work.
- More efficient and save time. Linked to the above.
Your next steps
How well would you fare in being evaluated about your level of digital skills in house? Be honest.
If you would be interested in having a conversation about what is possible for your business – please do reach out – I’d be happy to help. You can also comment below if you have any questions.
Our guest posts are really valuable to our readers – expanding on many of the subjects that they need to get their heads around in the course of running and building their businesses. A big thank to you to Shelley for taking the time to put together this post to give you some insight into some of the priorities that smaller businesses need to focus on in the coming months and years.
Shelley works with us here at Clifford Towers and has helped us to enhance our digital skills and be more consistent in our communications with our clients. Harbour 32 is a digital agency based in Northamptonshire which focuses on web, social media and communications. You can check out their website; join them on Facebook or follow Shelley on Twitter.