Times are exciting and there are changes afoot – the fourth industrial revolution is here and now.
Think technology evolution with the likes of artificial intelligence, machine learning, nano robots that target cancer cells and 3D printing. Or disruption in politics, the media or within different industries. Big data – defined as extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns or trends – is changing the way we see the world and this will be reflected in our jobs and the way we work.
The World Economic Forum tells us that 75m jobs globally will be lost in the fourth industrial revolution, however, what you may not hear is that they also predict the creation of 133m new jobs worldwide.
Surviving will come down to whether you’re prepared to open your mind, challenge your thinking and adapt. This quote from Mark Twain always stuck with me and seems relevant now: “An open mind leaves a chance for someone to drop a worthwhile thought in it”.
It can be daunting though given that there is so much out there regarding digital business solutions and you don’t know what you don’t know. Having a trusted advisor can help you navigate the mire.
So, here are some tips that can do wonders for streamlining your business.
Email marketing & CRM
Use your CRM to boost customer conversations because customer relations is the most important tool you have.
Find out what your customers really think by doing quick simple surveys. It’s crucial here to invite honest feedback.
I recently asked my Xero customers what they thought of my training. I was a little taken aback to get a negative feedback because I’d had so much positive. But, once I got over the shock, I realised it was the most valuable feedback I’d received. They said the training was great, but they could have done with a follow up call to check how they were going. I immediately set about putting in place follow-up procedures and a now offer a fuller, more valuable service.
Job system/workflow management
Making sure you have a tool that helps you keep track of your business is essential. Using Xero Projects or WorkflowMax can do wonders for tracking costs on projects and are great for service providers.
Or look to find a sector specific app that best suits you. Using Tradify and Fergus for tradies is a game changer. Assign work, invoices and obtain payment on the go. No more going home at night to do the huge amount of bookwork and most importantly, payment comes in much faster.
These are also powerful tools to gain insight that can help you tweak your profit margin. You can’t always put your prices up but you can keep an eagle eye on costs and increase your profit margin by reducing your costs.
It’s so important to have a tool that helps you track seasonal fluctuations, keep on top of your ordering and makes sure you have a grasp on what shrinkage is occuring. It’s also vital you have a strong understanding of the cost of warehousing and the cost of getting it wrong with product – as the case may be.
The important thing here is to do the research and get advice. There are so many tools out there with varying strengths and weaknesses. Some are inexpensive and just do the job needed while others are vital for adhering to the legal requirements of batch/serial number tracking.
I’m going to say Xero every time. I’ve been converting clients and doing one on one training for many years now, and every time we come out the other end of the process with the client in raptures extolling its virtues.
One of the key benefits is that it allows you to automate processes. From repeating invoices to invoice reminders. Snap a picture of your petrol or parking receipt and email to Xero expenses then you’re done. Forward your supplier invoices to Xero bills and it populates a draft invoice with the bill attached and ready for approval , or better still set up a forwarding rule in your email.
Another benefit is that you can go paperless by saving all the paperwork to Xero storage – just snap a pic or scan and email directly to the storage facility, or drag and drop.
The main piece of feedback I receive from clients once I have set them up on Xero is about how much time they now get back. My advice to them, and to anyone who finds themselves with spare time thanks to technology advancing? Use that time to adapt. Get staff producing another revenue stream, up your game, provide more unexpected value to your customers. Ultimately, you want to aim to the business that is excellent and has their customers talking about them.
This blog was written by Tania Stenersen, Accountant at Gilligan Sheppard.