How to give your business a digital refresh for 2023.
The end of the year offers a natural time for reflection. 2022 has been another whirlwind year, with political turbulence and economic uncertainty like no other. This winter, the UK’s cost of living crisis is reaching its peak and that means we enter the New Year with consumer and business confidence at an all time low and the Bank of England predicting the UK’s longest ever recession.
Come New Year, SMEs will likely be hoping to turn the page on a tumultuous 2022 and look ahead. Planning for the new year will be more important than ever, as businesses look to find ways to boost their resilience in what is set to be another challenging year.
Whilst you cannot do anything about the macro backdrop, SME leaders can look inward. Reviewing your business model and identifying areas to boost resilience is a strong way to enter 2023. Often, businesses find that digitisation can be an effective means of becoming more resilient. In fact, recent research commissioned by Vodafone found that 30% of business owners said the financial problems they faced this year had forced them to innovate and change the way they do things, so 2023 could be ripe for innovation for businesses that take stock.
Our SME Like Me report revealed that almost one in five SMEs describe themselves as “laggards” when it comes to new technology. So, to simplify what can feel like a complex challenge, I like to advise eadbusiness owners to divide their business into sections when considering their digital strategy. Here are my thoughts on how SMEs can take this approach when planning for 2023.
HR: consider your team
Employees are at the heart of any business. Whether you have a small team or a nationwide squad, staying connected with your colleagues is vital. 2022 has shown that hybrid working is here to stay with the ONS revealing 40% of working adults in Great Britain now work across multiple locations in a hybrid model and, as employees grapple with rising costs for their commute, working from home may seem more appealing.
To help you stay connected with your employees wherever they choose to work, and keep them engaged and productive, consider installing remote access software or a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to enable seamless file sharing. Remote access software can also ensure that when tech doesn’t go to plan, IT support can be on hand with remote access solutions providing a simple and secure way to take control of a computer and get employees back online quicker.
Finally, VPN’s have a zero-trust access policy to give you peace of mind that when your team are working away from the office, your company’s sensitive information remains secure.
Sales: attract new customers
Growing your business is the key to staying resilient, and the best way to reach new customers is through marketing. But marketing is not as simple as being active on Instagram, with a quarter of SMEs feeling that the digital tools they have are not enough to help tackle the ever-evolving trends and changes.
To elevate your marketing strategy, consider upskilling your team with SEO (search engine optimisation) tools to help direct customers to your website. An SEO strategy can make sure that your future customers see your website before competitors which boosts your opportunities to convert visitors to sales.
Finances: master your money
The cost of living crisis is set to be a long-term issue and our research shows that the rising cost of gas, electricity and fuel for business use is the greatest challenge for half of small business owners (53%), so making sure every penny counts is critical. Staying agile is key to helping you tackle unexpected costs and there are numerous tech platforms available, which can make your accounting methods more efficient. Software like Xero, Oasys or Certify can help you digitalise your business’ accounting methods to help you keep track of expenses, manage payroll and have oversight of your inventory – all at your fingertips. Not only are these platforms affordable, but they can also save you considerable time – and, for SMEs, time is money.
New year, new you
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail and plotting your digital strategy for 2023 now could drive time and cost efficiencies, retain staff and yield new customers next year. Look at your different business departments and consider how a simple digital refresh could have significant effects. To help, we’ve created Vodafone’s V-Hub to empower SMEs to boost their skills, in their own time, and make the most of the digital tools available to them. Here, you can access free expert guidance on all aspects of running a business, so you can head into 2023 ready to tackle whatever challenges the year throws at you.
Build and flex your perfect mix of mobile, broadband and cloud calling services.
Andrew Stevens is Head of UK Small & Medium Business at Vodafone, and leads a team providing insight, expertise, and SME-focused tech solutions for the UK’s growing network of small and medium businesses.
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