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Sukhi Jutla co-founder of MarketOrders, the B2B gold and diamond jewellery marketplace, discusses how blockchain and other technologies have given them the edge over larger gold jewellery sourcing companies.

Small businesses are increasingly under pressure from changing consumer trends as well as shifting business and market conditions; this can create challenges for SMEs.

Bigger is not always better in business. The key advantage that small businesses have over their larger players in the industry, is their ability to adapt and react quickly to changing market and customer preferences, as well as agility when it comes to using and deploying technology processes. Technology is an equalizer in today’s climate. You could be a business of just one employee, selling fashion apparel to international markets from your own home and still be an international businessman. This is what technology frequently allows us to do; with the use of the internet and new digital processes, we are easily able to reach customers and clients all over the world. This is where SMEs are able to thrive when compared with their larger rivals.

SMEs have the advantage of being closer to the customer. It allows them to deliver exactly what the customer wants, which is key for smaller businesses to build a successful business. Those working in the tech sector increasingly are developing new digital processes; gaining access your customer with the use of social media and targeted marketing campaigns has never been easy, and this is what SMEs should be embracing at a minimum.

Data on its own is not enough; small business owners should be analysing data to obtain key insights which should inform their decisions making. For example, fashion retailers need to consider where their customers are shopping, how they can turn their customers into marketing ambassadors and how effective use of key hashtags and trending topics can help to promote certain items.

Facebook remains the dominant social media platform by membership, but SMEs should consider where it is worth allocating ad-spend. This is the type of information that digital processes and new technology can help to provide, and therefore guide these businesses on where the money would be best spent in order to overtake market competitors.  

SMEs should use technology to collect data and analyse it for key insights to inform their decisions making. Digital processes can also help with efficiency and streamlining all processes. Efficiency is key when running a business; you need things done and you need them done quickly. For example, many SMEs scan receipts into digital apps that connect directly to their banking systems in order for accounts to be done quickly and efficiently, which means that businesses no longer have to worry about missing receipts / information as it is all streamlined digitally.

Almost every sector can benefit from improved processes and efficiency. When using digital processes to run businesses but in my opinion, businesses that have repetitive processes can greatly benefit from the use of technology and automation. This can free up valuable time for founders and C-suites to focus on key things within the business and allow them time to work on the business.

Repetitive processes could benefit from the use of technology; for example, SMEs can improve their cash flow process by simplifying everyday tasks such as automating monthly payments from customers. This means the business owners aren’t required to be involved in the actual processing. Not only does this improve cash flow, but it also removes the risk of human error in paperwork, increases accuracy and limits the amount of cash businesses are required to keep on-site which ultimately helps to reduce security issues.

Book-keeping processes can also be automated with more accuracy and speed. SMEs can even use fintech to raise funds through crowdfunding platforms to help to connect with investors in an age where getting access to funds from banks and other traditional sources are drying up. My business used this crowdfunding technology to help us raise our first seed round which helped us to target investors and reach out to key players in the market. Many ways SMEs can benefit from utilising technology and digital processes in the way they run their business. With so many options on offer, it can be overwhelming to decide what you actually need. Focusing on the foundation technologies in the first instance can help SMEs with cash flow and accounting.

It’s also worth utilising free technologies such as social media to help connect with your customers and to start building awareness of your products and brands. Most SMEs already have a website, so it would also be key to start a regular blog to communicate to your customers and investors about what you are doing with the business and start engaging conversations.