Mindsets and change

There are many different reasons why someone starts their own business; for some it’s the desire to have their own legacy they can pass down to their family. Other people might like the independence and flexibility that being a small business owner can offer, or simply like having a small business as a something they do on the side.

It’s this motivation and mindset that can really affect whether a business is ready to “go digital” and realise the benefits of digital technology, or whether they are happy for things to stay the way they are.

Why the contribution is important

Realising the benefits of digital tech and making it easy for small business owners is tricky, as everyone has their own personal motivations for running a small business. Not everyone needs or wants to get digital, but there might be some small businesses who could be missing out because they are wary of change.

  • How can we make it easy for business owners to digitise if they need to and want to?
  • Is our business culture risk-averse when it comes to change and adopting digital tech?

by DigitalEconomyTeam on November 08, 2017 at 03:46PM

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Comments

  • Posted by AimeeZhang November 09, 2017 at 19:29

    Small businesses are suffering from current economic environment. Technical adoption is very time consuming (including learning new skills, buying new equipment, and considering security issues). Small business owners could be risk-averse or risk-taker. But the uncertainty and risks brought by "go digital" is a concern for most small business owners as most of them are not equipped with technical skills to due with them. To provide a better solution for small business to "go digital" required a good understanding on the normal business processes and concerns for technical adoptions.
  • Posted by DigitalEconomyTeam November 10, 2017 at 16:58

    Thanks for your comment AimeeZhang - great points on this topic.
  • Posted by breakthrough4business November 14, 2017 at 20:44

    How can we make it easy for business owners to digitise if they need to and want to?

    Great question. The answer is to provide the resources for all Small Business Owners across Australia to not only understand 'what' tools that are out there that will help them but also show them 'how' to use these tools.

    Change is inevitable, and at the moment technology is evolving very quickly. The Federal Government needs to engage in the private sector to find out what are the available solutions that address this exact problem.

    There is a wonderful resource at www.b4b.academy that gives Business Owners step by step instructions on how to use online tools to help them scale and become more profitable and efficient.

    Is our business culture risk-averse when it comes to change and adopting digital tech?

    People are only ever 'risk-averse' to adopting technology if they do not understand the benefits and positive implications because we are scared of what we do not know enough about.

    By giving Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs access to an online resource that can help them along this path, it will remove the barriers of engagement and promote positive outcomes.
  • Posted by Lynellej November 16, 2017 at 08:19

    Small business particularly in regional areas where we work do not understand how going digital applies to their business.
    Yes they understand how a website allows their business to be found online but once they tick that box most do nothing but leave their website unattended for years. Usually being Time poor and knowledge poor they do not consider it a journey but a tick box. We have also found that unless they have access to affordable ongoing support that’s how it stays.
    They have no idea about how their website is a business productivity tool.
    Social media is more likely to be kept up if the business owner is comfortable in that space due to private social media use but if not it sufffers the same neglected fate as the website. Even if the business owner is comfortable using social media they rarely have a strategy for their campaigns and do not keep up or understand algorithm changes which affect reach.
  • Posted by DigitalEconomyTeam November 16, 2017 at 15:21

    Hi b4b.academy. You make some good points and this is backed up by some recent research we conducted which showed that there is fear and resistance to change for many small businesses when it comes to digital technology but this fear can be allayed when they have trusted advice and trusted information and they can see the value proposition to their business.

    Lynellej,
    You have also made some important points. It is one thing to have a website but it is another to have it working 24/7 to service the customers the business is targeting. This takes both time and expertise and if a business does not get an immediate return on investment, then the reason to maintain it can fall away. Same with social media, as you point out. This is a beast that needs to be fed, but there has to be a strategy behind it and it gets back to how it can add value to the business.
    thank you for your comments.
  • Posted by Steve321 November 19, 2017 at 20:12

    Hi,

    I'm an accountant/ financial planner specialist in delivery of services predominantly via technology such as xplan and xero.

    We've found that whilst much cheaper to operate than manual or desktop software , there's a distinct lack of confidence in newer and more secure because of a mindset which says we've always done it a certain way and will continue.

    The consequences in accounting are so servere than many newer business services are being neglected for remaining in tax and bookkeeping modes.

    For example , crowdfunding.

    Our firm uses a secure mobile menu in the form of a mobile app with great success.

    We have clients all over Australia as a result.

    Happy to reasonable assist.

    Steve321

  • Posted by DigitalEconomyTeam November 20, 2017 at 09:55

    Hi Steve321, thanks for your comment. Really great to hear the perspective of someone in accounting who has seen how a lack of confidence in adopting new tech can impact on the financial operations of small business.
  • Posted by simplexity November 22, 2017 at 01:12

    There is a fundamental mindset shift required moving from an existing fail-safe brick and mortar business to a safe-fail digital business that is disruptive, volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA).
  • Posted by andyfryer November 22, 2017 at 22:57

    Hi,

    Most small business owners work really hard to make ends meet and keep the doors open. If you ask any of them if they would like to spend twice as long performing a task for the same income they would look at you strangely and give you a solid no.

    In changing their mindset they need to understand that there are many tasks in their business that they are currently working twice (or even 10+ times) as long on as they would be if they had embraced technology.

    There are as such simple steps so many small businesses can take to dramatically increase efficiency. They don't need to jump out and immediately get a custom mobile app developed for customers to order and customise their products, but moving from quoting with paper and pen to a simple spreadsheet would dramatically reduce quoting time and eliminate costly quoting errors (yes I went to a framing company last week that looked up his price guides and nutted out my quote on a bit of A4 paper for 10 minutes).

    Once they get a taste for the time and money they can save it's easier to gain momentum and embrace further innovation. Next they could outsource a freelancer online for a low cost to turn that spreadsheet into a widget on their website... now their customers are quoting themselves!

    Coming full circle to my initial point... I think it is important to educate small business owners that innovating and embracing technology isn't hard work... doing things how they have always done them is hard work!

    Cheers,

    Andy
  • Posted by JohnGoodman November 28, 2017 at 14:27

    What about iPads?
  • Posted by GSchenkel December 06, 2017 at 10:26

    Andy - how could this education be delivered in an effective way? I'm sure many small business owners feel they dont have the time to learn whilst also run the business? Thanks.
  • Posted by SoniaC January 10, 2018 at 10:27

    I have found my tribe.
    We are moving our business away from IT support for SMBs and into advice & consulting about tech, as "virtual CIOs". This is what I'm seeing:

    1. SMBs don't need more choice. If they make a decision to improve some part of their business with tech, they get lost looking at all the options and getting informal advice from 537 people in a facebook group about what the right solution is. I do love the point earlier about "trusted advice and trusted information". I'm constantly preaching that SMBs need some trusted contacts like a virtual board, who get to know their business well enough to recommend the right things for their business. There don't seem to be many easy or cost-effective ways to do this, or for them to find the right people. We have a great example of partnering with an HR company and running meetings with a mutual client.

    2. Independent advice is key. IT companies have a reputation for selling the solution that they will get a commission from or an implementation project from. This often leaves SMBs wondering if it's really the best move or not. We're having success working with SMBs because of our approach that we won't get a product sale or project from it, and the SMB can go to any IT company for a quote to move to our recommended solution. We're also happy to independently review other quotes and suggestions.

    3. SMBs are time poor and will always default to known behaviour to get product out the door or services delivered to the customer. Changing technology comes with some pain (any change does), so our biggest challenge is getting SMBs to commit to investing their time in that change process/adoption. It's the digital equivalent of dragging yourself to the gym, but the stakes are higher, because SMBs know their current way of doing something is fast and will achieve the result they want. It may not be the most efficient, but SMBs need strong leadership to go the fires of change, starting with a strong reason why, so they have something to hold onto when they want to stay in bed.

    4. The technology decision is a small part of digital success. The magic comes from integrating the new tech into the business operations. Often this can mean changing your business processes. Again, this is something that SMBs are reluctant to do. They'll look at the cost of moving to a new system and won't want to invest time & money is proper business adoption of the new tools. We've seen lots of stories of businesses who bought the new Cloud thing and haven't really used it, or just use 1 out of 32 features of it.

    Sorry for the "War & Peace" comment, but you can see I'm pretty passionate about this.
      
  • Posted by smalldigbizteam January 12, 2018 at 10:29

    Thank you SoniaC for such insightful comments. Your insights synch with our recent research as well. We’ve observed many businesses need a combination of online and offline support and a compelling reason to change what they are doing. Many haven’t found the trigger point yet to change. And you are right about the real productivity benefits coming from the full integration of a variety of tech solutions. In some sense, simply digitising existing processes is only half the issue, it is more about re-examining the very core of business processes and seeing if things can be done better and perhaps differently…(always with the customer in mind).
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