Digital Transformation For Your Small Business?

Start Small, Focus On Your Customer & Pay As You Grow

Razan Khatib
Springing Forward

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Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

I started writing this post back in February, shortly before COVID-19 pandemic was called one and the new reality of imposed lockdowns and shutdowns became the norm. What felt like a nudge to get started at digital transformation then is today an urgent quest by the majority of businesses of all sizes. Many are scrambling to create, increase, or solidify their digital everything!

THE CASE FOR DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

More than ever, customers everywhere are demanding digital touchpoints to interact with your business beyond customer service via social media.

Digital transformation is not privy only to large enterprises, actually, it’s much harder for the big ones to do the transformation necessary for innovation while as an owner of a micro/small business, your efforts can run much faster.

The last decade saw a lot of innovation in terms of the number of online tools available to automate just about any business procedure or operation there is, across industries and functions at a fraction of the cost of what such tools used to cost earlier.

In this post, I try to give structure to your own thinking around becoming a digitally driven organization.

HOW TO EMBRACE DIGITAL?

In order to offer quick generic pointers into how small business owners in Jordan and the region can go about embracing digital, I thought it best for the post to be centered around some of the questions I get usually asked.

WHERE DO WE START?

The best part to start with is anything and everything that relates to your customer journey and making it both simple to go through as well as a delightful one to use. Think of your website, your online store, social media channels, and how they can all connect together to serve your customer.

SHOULD WE BUILD OUR OWN ONLINE STORE?

If you have never sold online, or can’t afford to hire eCommerce savvy marketing and operational staff then the best way is to start selling your products on marketplaces like Amazon or Etsy. If you have a strong brand already, then venture a step further and use something like Shopify, ShopGo, or Squarespace while you learn how to fulfill your customers’ orders online. Once your business has a good foothold into eCommerce you can start investing further to build and grow your own online store experience.

THERE ARE MANY ONLINE TOOLS OUT THERE, WHICH ONES SHOULD WE USE?

Yes, there are! Just like you’ve been heavily using Zoom to run internal and external meetings, there are many tools for about anything. Go for popular ones, go for industry-specific, make sure you can take your data with you anytime, and make sure any tool you use can easily connect to other ones. The great thing about Intercom or Basecamp, for instance, is the number of other tools they allow you to connect to. The best tools always promote your ownership of your data, your need to connect to other tools, and your ability to scale your usage for a good amount of time. If I am to select the 5 important areas to look for the best tool you can use I would choose: customer messaging, customer relationship management (CRM), leads management, task/project management, and internal communication -beyond WhatsApp.

WHAT PARTS OF MY BUSINESS WILL NEED TO TRANSFORM?

EVERYTHING.

It’s easy to get lost into IT terms once you begin to explore digital transformation. So I encourage you to have a different compass. Your north should always be focused on how your customer acquires your products/services and how you operate in order to deliver those products and/or services.

Think of the following then as connected layers where your business can wholly become a digital organism.

Redefine your customer journey: Jot down the journey each of your customers’ take to engage with your brand online and offline to find ways you can automate some basic services or make use of their history with you to recommend a product. If your product or service are part of a group of to-dos the customer has to use/or make use of to fulfill a specific goal, then extend your offering to help them accomplish as many as you can. As you grow, you can also tap into the ecosystems that don’t directly link with your offering but can make a great impact on your customer’s life.

Redefine your business operating model: Think of how you’ve been operating, from processes to tools. Do you want to bring digital to some part of your business? or do you want digital to be a new line of business? Do you want to eventually become a fully digital operation in the future? then make sure your efforts keep connecting to that vision.

Become a digitally driven culture: Think of your culture, are your staff empowered to suggest and use online tools to get things done? Are your IT policies restrictive and promote owning software and infrastructure instead of using on-demand software and computing power with monthly subscriptions at a fraction of the cost? Does your bank have a great online banking service? Does your accountant use software that allows you to access your financial reports 24/7?

Become a data-driven culture: What about data? Are you collecting, organizing, and extracting analytics? Are you using the data at your disposal to help drive better decisions across all business functions?

That’s it.

May your business transform safely :-)

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Razan Khatib
Springing Forward

Playing @ the intersection of culture, technology & values. Trying to structure my thoughts & share experiences, learnings & insights. Cofounder of @spring_apps