Monday, October 12, 2009

Small businesses have access to many business-solutions, yet fail to capitalise on them. Why?

Cameron Hemming, National Business Development Manager

The advent of high speed broadband has given small businesses (from all industries) access to low cost, high quality business services over the Internet. One would imagine that using these revolutionary business applications would result in a growing small business with lean costs and a highly efficient operation – but too often that doesn’t happen.

Through my experience at Cleardocs, I have visited hundreds of small businesses — mainly accounting and financial planning firms — and it is always frustrating to see the legacy business processes and software they still rely on.

A recent example was an accountant who said he took over his mother’s accounting practice believing that with his better understanding of technology he could streamline and grow the firm’s revenue.

But it did not happen …

As it has turned out, he has fallen into the same trap as his mother because he implements band-aid solutions rather than fixing the business.

This example is common to small business where servicing existing customers is so time consuming that there is little opportunity to improve the business.

So what is the solution

Although it may seem impossible and feel overwhelming, a business owner should focus on re-engineering their business by taking a piecemeal approach. My suggestion is for the business owner to imagine they have a fresh new business and map out how they would build it from scratch. From this map you can identify which parts of the business can be improved quickly by employing the online services available and the areas where a more planned and gradual approach is required.

Traditionally such system changes would have inherent cost (ie. money and time) and risk issues during transition. However, due to online services called Software as a Service (SaaS) this risk can be dramatically reduced. Most SaaS business services — for example, data backup, book keeping, payroll etc. — can be set up on a trial basis and paid for on either a subscription, or transactional, basis. This dispels with the cost and IT risks associated with buying licenses, installing software and running on internal servers.

In a nutshell, SaaS essentially takes the IT out of business applications and turns them into on-demand business services.

Companies like Cleardocs enable small businesses to quickly get off the ground and grow with minimum costs so that they may have every opportunity to be successful.

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