Starting a business is a major undertaking for any entrepreneur and growing and making it successful can be a daunting task. Every company faces challenges, irrespective of size, with a recent Chamber for Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) survey highlighting ten major obstacles facing businesses in 2016.
Some of these are common and have been around since industry first began, but others are more of a feature of modern day business practice. These include cashflow, profitability, productivity, customers, regulation, marketing and time availability.
This last point, highlighting the issue of time, is a general feature of our modern lifestyles and is not unique to business. However, this scarcity seems to resonate with business owners in particular, with many saying they don’t have enough hours in the day to do strategy and planning, while also trying to run their businesses. This is especially true for small and medium businesses, where owners are very hands-on.
Advances in computer-based information systems have created a wide variety of digital products and tools to help business owners manage their time better, by tracking business performance and helping owners implement strategies to deal with the kinds of day-to-day challenges identified in the CCIQ survey.
It’s not uncommon for business of all sizes to have a variety of these computer-based – as well as manual – information systems to capture, process and store all the data that they produce. A good example is an accounting system, which is needed to keep an accurate track of business revenue, expenses, tax liabilities, assets and other key financial information and provide up to date reports so informed decisions can be made.
Information systems are also vital for managing inventory. While accounting systems can help you track inventory costs and keep tabs on each item's profitability, additional systems are needed to track shipments and ensure the security of stored goods and valuable assets.
And, while all this information helps make business owners’ lives easier in some respects, the sheer volume of it can create its own headaches.
Quoted recently in idealog, Xero’s Managing Director, Anna Curzon, said, “83% of small business customers want to be more efficient and… are having to run harder to stand still. So they're telling us to give them tips and tricks and advice on how they can be more productive and efficient to give them the time back to do whatever matters most.”
“That might be spending more time with the family, it might be spending more time having a life, or it might be giving back to the community. But our small business community, en masse, is saying they want to become more efficient and more productive to achieve their goals, whatever they might be."
So, while business owners seem to know what they want, it’s not as easy for them to identify what to focus on to fix the problem. They are constantly being peppered with distractions disguised as opportunities. That is why it’s essential for them to find the right tools and technologies to help them sift through the overwhelming flood of information, and prioritise the right things in their business.
Underlining this, the recent Suncorp Cost of Being Connected Report reveals more than half of Australian SMEs are using digital tools to connect, collaborate and conduct their business. Suncorp Head of Business Customers, John Debenham, says “it was pleasing to see a third of respondents using accounting and productivity software to manage their financials. Digital software programs and business dashboards can remove some of the complexities of running a business, and ultimately alleviate some time pressures.”
This highlights why it’s essential that businesses identify a professional, experienced partner who can help them get the most out of their systems and give them all the information they need for optimum decision making. It will also give them valuable time back.