By Karl Morris
In the last 20 years, the business environment has seen some dramatic and radical shifts in the way businesses are run. As a digital agency owner dealing with small to medium businesses Australia-wide, we are constantly dealing with businesses at various stages of the business life cycle.
Successful growing businesses have three things in common
We have a large variety of businesses as clients, just some of the business categories we work with include trades, logistics, medical and funeral homes. Based on our observations, I believe three things are critical to ongoing success and growth for small to medium businesses in 2022 and beyond.
- Accounting Software
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
- A digital presence (simply having a website does not constitute a presence)
Xero was founded in 2006, just before the launch of the iPhone in Jan 2007 at Macworld. It’s no coincidence that Xero has become a powerful force in the accounting software space. Their cloud-based accounting solutions seems to have stolen the march on the then market leaders, MYOB and Quicken. In addition, Xero’s mobile applications and ability to plug and play application services was game-changing. Quicken and MYOB have both now done a lot to catch the new market leader, in my opinion.
Regardless of the accounting software, you use, the benefits of modern accounting software are numerous
- Automated bank feeds
- Automatic credit card feeds
- Simplified quoting process
- Versatile mobile functionality
- Invoice on the go
- User friendly
- Easily accessible
- Integrated with other platforms
- Software as a Service or SaaS (no longer need to update your system)
With many small businesses, the new software means taking a photo of an invoice or bill immediately integrates with your software. Invoices can be generated and sent on the job, and payments can be receipted on the job.
In many instances, we find tradies or business owners use untrained staff to become their default bookkeeper. As a business owner, open your wallets and get an accountant/bookkeeper to get you started, set up correctly, and train the people in your business to do the bookkeeping. And don’t forget to take advantage of those features that can make life so easy e.g. photographing invoices so they go straight into your accounting system. Or and a highly recommended solution is engaging a bookkeeper for ongoing services. The long term benefits of familiarizing yourself with your accounting software and the incredibly useful features are numerous. The Victorian Government is currently also offering a Small Business Digital Adaptation Program, which offers a $1,200 purchase rebate and includes Xero.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
There are a plethora of Customer Relationship Management tools out there. A CRM is a software system that enables you to keep client data and track all communications, prompt calls that need to be made, lead follow-ups, and so much more.
Most CRMs can synchronize with your accounting software or stand-alone. Some more advanced CRMs can be ‘complete job management platforms’ such as Simpro and Tradify. These advanced systems can assist with things such as staff scheduling, staff tracking, job site purchases and more.
Having a CRM system that is utilized properly also enables you to market directly to your database. Just one of the many digital marketing opportunities available to businesses.
As a business owner in the 2020s, you need to behave like a consumer (on digital platforms) to get a good grasp of what your competitors are doing in the digital marketing space.
Do a generic search for your product or service where you do it on Google. For example, a plumber in Geelong may do the following searches to see how they are performing on Google
- Plumber Geelong
- Plumbers Geelong
- Blocked drains Geelong
- Emergency blocked drains Geelong
- Hot water system installation Geelong
- Gas oven installation Geelong
If your business is not showing up predominantly in Google searches, you are effectively invisible. As we like to say at GOOP Digital
“If you want to hide a dead body, put it on page two of Google.”
Getting your website on Google is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and every man and his dog profess they are skilled at this. It is an objective exercise to verify if the web developer you are talking to can truly deliver the results consistently. Do a generic product and location search in Google for some of their clients.
The reality is there are many digital marketing options, and as a small to medium local business, Google needs to be your priority. You need to have a website that ranks on Google first and foremost. After getting your website to rank on Google, various other digital marketing options can come into play. Please note that having a website that ranks on Google is often enough for most small to medium businesses. The additional options being
- Content marketing (advanced SEO)
- E-Newsletters (leveraging data from your CRM)
- Social Media (most common for small to medium businesses)
- Performance-based paid advertising Google
- Google remarketing
- Highly targeted Facebook/Instagram campaigns
- Facebook remarketing
If you haven’t already it may be a good time to review or investigate how the three pillars can help your business.
- Accounting Software
- Digital marketing
With thanks to our guest author:
Managing Director, GOOP Digital
Karl Morris joined the board of The Geelong Chamber of Commerce in December 2021. He is the managing director of GOOP Digital, with a bachelor of business in Accounting (Deakin) and a Masters’s of Virtual Communications (RMIT). He is well qualified across a broad range of topics impacting businesses. Based in Geelong, his business, GOOP Digital, has a very large client base, Australia wide with a predominant focus in Geelong, the Bellarine and Surfcoast.