Vodafone UK’s Head of Small and Medium Business, Andrew Stevens, shares his advice on how to give your business a digital refresh for 2023.
The end of the year provides a natural time for reflection. 2022 has been another turbulent year, with unprecedented political turmoil and economic uncertainty. This winter the UK cost of living crisis is peaking meaning we enter the new year with consumer and business confidence at rock bottom and the Bank of England predicting the longest recession never registered in the UK.
As the new year approaches, SMEs are likely hoping to turn the page on a tumultuous 2022 and look ahead. Planning for the New Year will be more important than ever as businesses look to find ways to build resilience in what is shaping up to be another challenging year.
While you can’t do anything about the macro backdrop, SME managers can look inward. Reviewing your business model and identifying areas to build resilience is a good way to approach 2023. Companies often find that digitalization can be an effective way to become more resilient. In fact, a recent study commissioned by Vodafone found that 30% of business owners said the financial challenges they faced this year forced them to innovate and change the way they do things, so 2023 could be a time of innovation for companies taking stock.
Our SME Like Me report revealed that nearly one in five SMEs describe themselves as “lagging behind” when it comes to new technologies. So, to simplify what may seem like a complex challenge, I like to advise eadbusiness owners to divide their business into sections when reviewing their digital strategy. Here are my thoughts on how SMBs can take this approach when planning for 2023.
HR: think about your team
Employees are at the heart of any business. Whether you have a small team or a national team, staying in touch with your colleagues is essential. 2022 showed that hybrid working is here to stay with the ONS revealing that 40% of working adults in Britain now work across multiple sites in a hybrid model and, as employees grapple with rising travel costs, working from home may seem more appealing.
To help you stay connected with your employees wherever they choose to work and keep them engaged and productive, consider installing remote access software or a virtual private network (VPN) to enable seamless file sharing. . Remote access software can also ensure that when technology isn’t going as planned, IT support can be available with remote access solutions providing an easy and secure way to take control of a computer and get employees back online faster.
Finally, VPNs have a zero-trust access policy to give you peace of mind that when your team is working out of the office, your sensitive business information remains secure.
Sales: attracting new customers
Growing your business is key to staying resilient, and the best way to reach new customers is through marketing. But marketing isn’t as simple as being active on Instagram, with a quarter of SMBs saying the digital tools they have aren’t enough to keep up with ever-changing trends and changes.
To improve your marketing strategy, consider honing your team with SEO (search engine optimization) tools to help drive customers to your website. An SEO strategy can ensure that your future customers see your website before your competitors, increasing your chances of converting visitors into sales.
Finances: control your money
The cost of living crisis is expected to be a long-term issue and our research shows that the rising cost of gas, electricity and fuel for business use is the biggest challenge for half of small business owners ( 53%). penny counts is critical. Staying nimble is key to helping you deal with unforeseen costs and there are many technology platforms available that can make your accounting methods more efficient. Software like Xero, Oasys, or Certify can help digitize your company’s accounting methods to help you track expenses, manage payroll, and monitor your inventory, all at your fingertips. Not only are these platforms affordable, but they can also save you a lot of time – and, for SMBs, time is money.
New year, new you
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, and charting your digital strategy for 2023 now could save time and money, retain staff, and attract new customers next year. Look at your various business departments and think about how a simple digital refresh could have significant effects. To help, we’ve created Vodafone’s V-Hub to enable SMEs to build their skills, at their own pace, and make the most of the digital tools at their disposal. Here you can access free expert advice on all aspects of running a business, so you can head into 2023 ready for whatever challenges the year throws at you.