Big businesses have the resources to use cutting-edge technology to disrupt industries. For the typical small business owner, the likes of Tesla, Uber, Snapchat and Netflix are light years ahead. But here’s the great thing about technology: while it usually costs a lot to develop, it almost always gets cheaper, putting it within reach of small business owners.
Discover how these Aussie businesses used tech to gain their competitive advantage.
The Furry Godmother Pet Resort
No doubt the company that pioneered the ‘virtual tour’ spent millions working out how to add the feature to its website.
Now that cost is much more affordable, and the Northern Territory’s The Furry Godmother, a dog day care centre, makes effective use of the technology. The potential customers of any pet-related business want to be assured their fur babies will be well looked after. By providing high-quality, easy-to-navigate virtual tours of its facilities,
The Furry Godmother gains a competitive edge over less-tech-savvy dog kennels.
Shoes of Prey
Admittedly, Shoes of Prey hasn’t been a small business for quite some time. But when it launched in 2009, bespoke shoes were an indulgence only the wealthy could afford.
Shoes of Prey allows customers to go online and use its ‘3D designer’ technology to create unique, high-quality shoes, selecting the size, shape, heel, toe, fabric, colour and embellishments.
Unsurprisingly, many other Australian SMEs now use that same concept. For example, you can go to Melbourne’s Tee Junction website and design a personalised shirt.
The law firm business model – with high overheads and pricey fees – was well established long before Brisbane-based Katie Richards decided to shake things up.
In a hyperconnected world, Richards believed a lot of legal work could be automated or offshored.
So in 2013, Virtual Legal launched its offering, where legal tasks are completed for a fixed price. The grunt work is undertaken by staff in the Philippines, with an Australian lawyer liaising with the client via phone or email. With no exorbitant wage or rent bills to cover, Richards is able to make a healthy profit while charging only around 40% of what a top-tier law firm would.
Picking the Low-hanging Tech Fruit
Before you attempt to put a dent in the universe, it’s worth looking at how you can boost profits by investing in readily available technological solutions. Using a product such as QuickBooks Online allows you to automate your bookkeeping. This can save several hours, cut down on accountant fees and see you quickly identify any important developments, such as a client purchasing less or more than usual.
With LiveChat you can virtually chat with those who visit your business website, while Hootsuite allows you to automate your social media marketing efforts across 35 networks, including Facebook and LinkedIn. MailChimp is a cheap way to automate your marketing and target customers based on their behaviour, preferences and past purchases.
If you look hard enough, you’ll find a technology that allows you to partly or totally automate business processes. Once you’ve automated everything that can be automated, you should have plenty of time to think up a revolutionary way of using technology to turn your small business into a large one.
At the very least, it will give you time to significantly improve your product and service, thus allowing you to stay relevant and competitive in a changing economy.
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