Heather Smith is focused on helping advisors embrace the add on market place eco system. Using her super power of ‘explanation’ she’s educated over 1 million, via her YouTube channel, her Cloud Stories podcast, an online MasterMind group, a curated eco-system newsletter – all available for free! Plus, she’s written 9 business books including the Xero for Dummies series.As a Chartered Accountant and Xero Platinum Partner, Heather believes advisors can work from anywhere, and support clients anywhere, by honing their ability to offer services online.
Small businesses leveraging cloud-based technology, are growing in terms of revenue and employment. They’re also experiencing intrinsic benefits such as shorter working hours, flexible lifestyle, and holiday breaks. Data analysis from the recently released Xero Small Business Insights reports: How digital connectivity is helping Australian small business thrive, supports this.

‘In the 2017-18 financial year, firms on Xero using apps grew revenue by 5.5 percent. That compares with revenue growth of just 3.6 percent for firms on Xero with no connected apps.’

I love this report.

It uses data driven insights to support what I’ve been saying for a long time, with a reliable and fast internet connection, moving a small business to the cloud, reduces manual tasks, streamlines operations, and enables the business to operate efficiently and effectively, reduces costs and naturally leads to growth and revenue opportunities.

A digitally connected business embraces apps to automate one or more of the up to 70 different tasks SME’s generally undertake. The apps are connected in some way, so data can be pushed, or flow between solutions, streamlining operations. The optimal solution is the elimination of manual data entry. Extracted data pushes through connected apps, into relevant areas.

We’re not just talking about online accounting solutions. There are over the 750 cloud-based Apps listed on the Xero marketplace and 76% of those App types relate to six business activities: clerical, business intelligence, job scheduling & invoicing, rostering, client account management, and POS.

The adoption rate of popular app types, broken down by industry, Figure 7, highlights that for ten out of eleven industries, the most popular type of App is Clerical. This is typically a solution, like Receipt Bank that extracts the data from receipt and bills and pushes it into the accounting solution. Rostering solutions are popular in Hospitality and Real Estate industries, while Job scheduling and invoicing solutions are popular in Construction, and Professional Scientific and Tech services.

Understandably there are challenges as to why businesses have not embraced digital connectivity. Australia is a vast country, and internet connection can be difficult, especially for those in regional areas. Once access to a fast and reliable internet service is in place, there may be other factors, around capacity to implement, awareness, knowledge, mindset, and cost implications hampering adoption. However, as awareness grows, the circle of expertise, talent and successful case studies that can be tapped into also grows. It’s no longer necessary for small business to take their cloud journey alone. There’s now a lot of support and resources in place to assist them.

It’s also normally not as expensive as you may initially think, and there may be other money saving benefits you’d not realised. If you’re able to access your business data in the cloud and are no longer reliant on a server or a printer, you may for example, be able to reduce office rent and insurance costs.

In the last decade, Australian businesses increased their expenditure on information and communications technology (ICT) hardware and software by 67 percent, and shifted much of their spending from hardware to the cloud.

The report estimates that the use of a business intelligence app, saves a Xero subscriber an average of about one hour per week.

“We estimate that a clerical app such as Receipt Bank saves a small business on Xero between 30 minutes and 90 minutes per week.”

If you’re a small business keen to adopt modern technology, I suggest the next step you take is to contact your accountant and bookkeeper and ask them how they can help you. They may have resources in place to help you, or they may introduce you to a specialised Cloud Integrator, who can review your current business systems, and propose an implementation plan.

Further to the example industry apps Figure 8, Xero has produced several industry specific resources, which include suggestions of common technical stacks, used within the industry. The App businesses themselves may be able to direct you to someone who can offer specialised support, however, it’s beneficial to properly review the workflow, before selecting an App

Not everything needs to be done at once. It’s OK to roll-out micro-improvements, embed them within the workflow, train staff, iron out issues, and then look to roll out the next App for your thriving digitally connected business.