No company can continue to thrive by ignoring the changes happening all around it. Successful businesses keep pace with evolving trends in consumption, technology, and culture by changing themselves.
At no time has the need to keep up with the times been clearer than in the past two years. And while the coronavirus pandemic might be fading from the news these days, business owners everywhere can be sure that more, as-yet-unknown changes are on the way.
How can your business prepare? By implementing these big but sensible changes, for starters. Let’s take a look at how each can help your company stay one step ahead of the competition.
- Modernize Your Payroll Systems and Process
This is a simple, straightforward step with potentially big benefits for your business. Modern small business payroll software is built to reduce employers’ housekeeping and compliance workload, letting them allocate more resources to doing whatever it is they do best.
Make the switch to a payroll system that automatically handles payroll taxes, deductions, reporting, and more without putting the onus on your overstretched human resources or accounting teams. With access to a digital payroll portal that offers true self-serve capabilities, your employees will find themselves with far fewer questions about pay and benefits. And your HR and finance folks will find themselves with far more time to get stuff done.
- Use Cloud Accounting Software Instead of Spreadsheets
This is another strategic shift that can have a big impact on your company’s workflows and overall efficiency. At this point in history, with so many low-cost cloud accounting software options available for small businesses and self-employed folks, there’s no reason to do your accounting by hand.
Unless you really, truly enjoy it, that is, and your company is small enough that your intentionally inefficient approach doesn’t affect its growth or legal status. Otherwise, it’s just not worth it.
- Use a Project Management or Workflow Management Solution
This is a bigger change than opting into a self-serve payroll platform or cloud accounting software. It’ll change how everyone in your organization works, and though that change should ultimately be for the better, the road there won’t be perfectly smooth.
Choose a project management solution that’s capable of growing as your company does. If you’re not planning to take off like a rocket ship anytime soon, scalability is less important, but you still want a solution that can expand and contract with your needs.
Consider your actual business needs when selecting a project management tool as well. If you just need some sort of visual, information-rich organization tool, you might not need all the bells and whistles of a higher-priced, more comprehensive solution that’s designed to absorb all of your company’s workflows. On the other hand, a comprehensive solution has its own benefits in terms of simplicity, if not ease of use.
- Get Serious About Digital Security
Your company can do more to protect itself against cyber threats. That’s just a fact.
Don’t think a more robust cybersecurity defense is necessary for a business as small and low-profile as yours? Think again. It’s not just the Colonial Pipelines and JBSes of the world that fall victim to sophisticated (and not-so-sophisticated) cyber attacks. It’s mom-and-pop shops too.
Your business needs an all-of-the-above defense against these threats. That means:
- An encrypted email solution that ensures the bad guys can’t snoop on sensitive communications
- A VPN (virtual private network service) that encrypts your company’s web traffic, preferably uploaded on all company and employee devices
- A powerful anti-malware package
- A strong external firewall
- A “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy that holds every employee device to the same strict security standards as company-provided systems
This is a big change that won’t happen overnight. But it’s essential to stay competitive in the new normal.
- Automate Basic, Time-Consuming Tasks
You can automate a lot more than you think. And while doing so will undoubtedly change the way your organization functions and probably involve some speed bumps along the way, the long-term value of the shift could be incalculable.
So, what processes should you look to automate? Any low-value task that diverts resources away from value-creating tasks is fair game. That could mean:
- Setting up recurring deliveries of office and breakroom supplies, including food and beverage
- Automating your document signing protocols using a secure digital solution
- Automating document notarization to avoid the need for a notary onsite or daily visits to the UPS Store
- Automating and speeding up email marketing processes, likely as part of a more comprehensive customer relationship management platform (CRM)
- Creating more opportunities for customer self-service using infrastructure like remote live chat, chatbots, publicly visible knowledge bases, and detailed written, audio, and visual help content on your website
- Stretching your social media capabilities farther with scheduling tools and virtual assistants who post so you don’t have to
This list really just scratches the surface. You know your business’s needs better than anyone, so you’ll surely find surprising processes ripe for automation given half a chance.
Change Is the Only Sure Thing
If there’s one thing we can be certain of, it’s that more changes are right around the corner. And the businesses that thrive in an ever-evolving environment are the ones that anticipate and adjust to those changes before their competitors.
The action items on this list will help your company do just that.
By upgrading to a modern, efficient payroll system and HR management platform, you’ll save your employees’ valuable time, raise morale, and improve the employee experience. When you switch to cloud accounting software and other cloud-based business services, you’ll lessen the load on your local systems and dramatically increase your company’s flexibility as it grows. After upgrading and expanding your customer support infrastructure, you’ll see positive changes in customer feedback, retention, and revenue.
The list goes on, but the takeaway is clear. For your business to reach its full potential, it needs to adapt to whatever change may come. Because change will come.