Article | February 26, 2020
You have a lot of responsibility as a small business owner, whether you’re managing numerous people or are a self-employed army of one. You have to worry about expenses, numerous financial statements, tax season and more, all while trying to build your net worth. One of the biggest obligations that looms over the head of nearly every business owner is the thought of debt. Debt can greatly impact the growth capacity of a business, and even worse, it can cause a business to go under completely. Fortunately, there’s a great tool that can help you determine how much debt you can handle and help you understand your company’s general financial health. That tool? The solvency ratio.
Article | June 23, 2021
The start of the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented demand for digital marketing irrespective of large businesses or small-medium businesses. Along with it, the pandemic brought the ever-increasing demand for tech stack in business. Business tech trends are important for small business owners in 2021 that play a vital role in the growth and efficiency of their business. Growing business and start-up tech stack issues for small businesses differ from large enterprises.
Tech stack has been in marketing for ages, yet it was the most neglected aspect by small business owners. However, the emergence of the pandemic brought business technologies for small businesses into action. Embracing technology is crucial to enable your company to equip with the right tools to find the solutions for the ever-changing demands and expectations of consumers.
Small business technology trends will be substantial/significant in 2021, and here are the best 7 small business tech stacks to reshape your business.
What is a tech stack?
A Tech stack is a set of technological tools used to build applications for web or mobile, software, and other operational tools. Tech stack is also called a solutions stack, technology infrastructure, or data ecosystem. As more and more businesses have started operating through computers and mobile devices, the tech stack has become a necessity to the app, web, or software development process.
About 89% of companies are going digital; thus, adopting it as their first strategy for business, the demand for technology is also growing. The technology stack is used for various reasons: sales, human resources, finance, digital marketing, operations, and analytics.
Why businesses need tech stacks?
Tech stack helps small business owners leverage capital in more effective and smarter ways. You will benefit from building your tech stack, whether you manage a large company, a start-up, or a solopreneur, and automate some processes. Your tech stack defines how different parts of your business fit together and interact. The right tech stack can streamline all your processes and help your team increase efficiency, improving your bottom line.
Top 7 Small Business Tech Trends for 2021
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning
The rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning is a significant trend and has transformed the way businesses are operating today. Most of the solutions are now implementing AI technology, where small business owners can include them in new and existing processes in 2021. Soon artificial intelligence (AI) will be widely adopted by small businesses in 2021 as it offers more personalized experiences to their customers by automating manual tasks and saving time. AI acts as an automation tech stack in business operations. AI will be implemented into new and existing processes and on a broader scale in 2021, from voice assistance to personalized customer experiences.
AI-based tools offer various benefits, which includes:
• Reducing time spent on tasks
• Increasing results
• Lowering costs
• Reducing risk
• Improving flexibility and responsiveness
Here are a few existing AI solutions that can help your small businesses.
AI-infused CRM is a marketing and sales tech stack for businesses. It helps to improve sales and marketing. Customer-relationship management is nothing but a system designed to collect customer data through communication channels such as phone, emails, and social and thus helps to automate and boost the sales process. It is a significant small business tech stack that helps small business owners to identify and focus on audiences based on the customer feedback received through all those communication channels. Based on this information, you can adjust marketing and lead generation activities through implemented AI-infused CRM. AI-infused CRMs can be utilized to gather marketing and sales-related insights
AI-infused CRM can be the best marketing tech for small businesses.
AI-powered Chatbots is one of the effective small business tech trends. It automates customer communications. Many small businesses do not have strong customer service or sales teams. In such a case, AI-powered Chatbots can ease the pressure by working 24/7 without taking any breaks. Furthermore, AI-powered chatbots handle inquiries, improve customer experience, troubleshoot, and provide immediate support, and so on, all at the same time.
Streamline human resource tasks
The most unexpected arena that AI has made an entry is into human resources. AI tools streamline the hiring and onboarding process and acquire feedback from the new employees about improvisation required in the HR process. It saves time and money from manually interviewing every applicant. According to small business trends, 84% of small businesses still manually manage inventory and record data.
5G is a super-fast new global wireless fifth generation of cellular capability replacing 4G LTE connection. 5G promises faster data transmission speeds, a better and more consistent user experience, and improved network reliability, eliminating delay in data transfer between different devices’ communication. Small businesses can leverage IoT sensors of 5G by optimizing their workflow with automation, operating CCTV cameras, or placing a motion detector in a store during after-hours. According to Statista 2021, there will be more than 1.9 billion 5G subscriptions worldwide by 2024. 5G is a significant innovation for small business tech.
Comprehensive HR Technology
The need for comprehensive human resources software and tech by small and medium-sized businesses gained importance in 2020 due to the remote work in practice. By adopting this technology, small businesses can track their employees and their needs. This trend will continue in 2021, too, and can bring change in small business tech.
HR tech comprises the tool that HR managers will need to deliver a better employee experience. HR tech allows to store data, automate daily activities, reduces human errors, and maximizes productivity. A centralized HR system will help your employees to communicate better. Comprehensive HR tech helps to train your employees online and offline and allows you to track your employees regularly.
As a result of the pandemic and lockdowns, the major business shifted to mobile tech, online shopping, and mobile scheduling payments to establish a contactless shopping experience to their customers. However, this trend of making payments and shopping will continue in 2021 as well. Many retailers and small businesses rely heavily on online shopping, delivery, and mobile payments giving rise to popular eCommerce tech trends such as voice-activated payments, omnichannel shopping, augmented reality shopping experience, and mobile tech among the few. Tech-assisted shopping can benefit small business tech trends as it emphasizes convenience.
More Automation for Small Businesses
Automation was a buzzword for small businesses until 2021. Automation for small businesses saves enormous amounts of precious time and money on manually completing the tasks. The largest of the budget of small businesses will be spent on automation in 2021. Automation investments will increase as small businesses include online pricing automation and inventory management systems to conveniently solve their problems. Estimates say that there would be a boom in companies looking out for utilizing automated solutions for small business activities.
Additionally, automation tools improve sales, revenues, communication, create and manage invoices, increase customer experience, and much more. Automation increases the efficiency and productivity of small businesses. It is one of the core aspects of small business tech.
More Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is new-age marketing. It is also known as social media influencers, wherein you use the people having a strong influence on a brand’s industry or target audience. Influencer marketing is a dynamic form of the marketing strategy of 2021. Small businesses cannot afford to use a big celebrity or a high-profile influencer in influencer marketing. In such a situation small business can find a blogger, Instagrammer, or YouTuber that most of the audience relate with and join forces with them to recommend or promote their services, products, and brand. Besides, you can personalize the marketing strategy that will help you effectively connect with your customers, improve marketing campaigns, and create a niche within your industry. Thus, influencer marketing is the best marketing tech for small businesses.
With the modern workplace and innovation of more and more tech solutions, small businesses are also adopting new technology tools, thus giving rise to the need for software integration. Integration platforms allow any software to connect well with any other software. It brings various software together to make one unified software. Companies use various software to connect teams, manage customers, send important documents and store company information, respectively. The small business adds technology tools as they appear, which are necessary to complete the aspects of daily operations. Tech stack includes many components such as CRM, content performance and search, customer experience, social, and digital analytics. All these need to be accessible while working together. In such a situation, integration makes the tech stack streamline all the processes and enable team efficiency.
Technology integrations allow more data, eliminating errors speedily, and is also a low-cost technology. The key aspect of a tech stack is how seamless, and integrated technologies are.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How small business owners use technology to improve the business?
The use of technology enhances small businesses. Small business owners use technology to connect with people, provide better customer services, resort to remote workplace methods, automate tasks to save time, and much more.
What technology do small businesses need?
Small businesses must have some popular technologies such as HR software, Cloud computing, CRM, data and information security technology, mobile applications, etc.
Why do small businesses need technology?
Technology helps to save time and physical space for small businesses. The use of technology brings efficiency to operations. Technology helps small businesses to leverage their capital smartly and more effectively.
What are the 3 tools for small businesses?
The tools that can benefit small businesses are task management tools, email and social marketing tools, and scheduling meeting tools. These tools help small businesses to save time and money for their business to grow.
"name": "How small business owners use technology to improve the business?",
"text": "The use of technology enhances small businesses. Small business owners use technology to connect with people, provide better customer services, resort to remote workplace methods, automate tasks to save time, and much more."
"name": "What technology do small businesses need?",
"text": "Small businesses must have some popular technologies such as HR software, Cloud computing, CRM, data and information security technology, mobile applications, etc."
"name": "Why do small businesses need technology?",
"text": "Technology helps to save time and physical space for small businesses. The use of technology brings efficiency to operations. Technology helps small businesses to leverage their capital smartly and more effectively."
"name": "What are the 3 tools for small businesses?",
"text": "The tools that can benefit small businesses are task management tools, email and social marketing tools, and scheduling meeting tools. These tools help small businesses to save time and money for their business to grow."
Article | August 10, 2021
So many aspects of running a small business have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. And one of the areas that have been most impacted was employee recruitment. It was, after all, quite challenging to find potential new hires when you couldn’t meet and interview them face-to-face.
According to a survey by LiveCareer, many businesses turned to social media as a recruitment tool. The company says the social platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook allow businesses to learn “a lot about a candidate’s personality.” In addition, for their survey LiveCareer defined social media as “any digital tool that allows users to create and share content with the public.”
Article | August 18, 2021
Treasury management or more generally Supply Chain Finance management is still a neglected topic at many SMEs.
While large international corporations make the investment into expensive treasury management solutions (often part of their ERP solution) and even setup their own In-House Banks, this is considerably more difficult for the mid-corp segment and even more so for the smaller segment of the SMEs. Often SMEs lack the funding, time and expertise to deploy those platforms and often those platforms lack the flexibility required by an SME.
Nonetheless in this globalized competitive market with fast moving cash, even SMEs are in need of an effective treasury management. Every SME has its own specific challenges, due to its specific payment cycles and cash reserves. Nonetheless most SMEs (estimated to about three-quarters) still do their treasury management via (complex) Excel sheets, requiring a lot of manual effort. This gap forms a big opportunity (in Europe SMEs account for more than half of all gross value added) for incumbent banks and Fintechs to offer easy and user-friendly tooling for this. In recent years, more and more Fintech players try indeed to provide an answer to this gap, often via SaaS platforms, which connect easily to the customer’s banks (via Open Banking APIs) and for which the setup cost is limited.
The gains for an SME in optimizing their treasury processes can be very substantial. A good treasury management can reduce costs in multiple ways:
Reduce working capital by reducing the time to collect money from customers, by reducing inventory and/or by paying suppliers only at the payment due dates.
Reduce unpaid invoices by a better follow-up and good debt collection techniques
Reduce penalties (such as administration costs or late-payment interests) due to late payments and indirectly also improve the relationship with suppliers.
Reduce effort (resource workload) for financial management, like the follow-up of payments of incoming and outgoing invoices, automated generation of payment instructions for incoming invoices…
Optimized cash management allowing to keep on your current account only the required cash amount to run your business, thus allowing to invest excess cash, but also to avoid requiring short-term debt when too much cash is invested (and blocked in medium- to long-term assets)
Reduce foreign currency costs and exposure risks by keeping the right reserves of foreign currencies, applying hedging (like swaps or options) techniques, correctly taking forex rate fluctuations into account in future cash flow predictions…
Reduce transaction commissions for bank transactions, by selecting the right banking products, but also by using the right banking partner(s) (especially for international foreign currency payments big price differences exist between different banking parties)
Reduce cost of fraud by improving control, transparency and accountability via a pro-active, automated monitoring of all cash flows, allowing to detect anomalies as soon as possible
This can be achieved in multiple ways:
Setup and optimize the processes and tooling with the help of specialized services companies (like e.g. the offering of BelPay)
Setup or acquire software solutions (often in the form of SaaS offerings, i.e. Treasury in a Box) for cash & liquidity management, like invoice generation and follow-up (including invoice and payment matching), debt collection, incoming invoice processing (including payment), cash pooling, cash forecasting/capital planning… These software tools allow a more pro-active treasury management and reduce manual effort by automating certain steps in these processes. Examples of such platforms are HighRadius, Gtreasury, CashForce, Kyriba, Nomentia, Monite, Pair Finance, AiVidens… But there are also more specialized tools, offering only a specific service, like debt collection (e.g. Virteo, recovr, Pair Finance, TrueAccord, CollectAI, CollectionHub, inDebted, Attunely…), digitalization (through OCR) of paper invoices (e.g. Tangentia, Contract.fit, Metamaze, Klippa, SimpleOCR…), expense management (e.g. Payhawk, Rydoo, Expensify, Spendesk, Pleo, Circula…), account aggregation and payment initiation (e.g. Isabel 6/Ponto)…
Capture revenue by allowing customers to pay for products or services in a way that is most efficient for them and for the SME, allowing to increase sales, but also to ensure the best possible payment ratio. This includes solutions like digital onboarding and management of Direct Debits (e.g. via Twikey or DigiTeal), including a Pay button (e.g. via Twikey or POM) in invoices which allows to pay the invoice with a pre-filled credit transfer, card payment or other payment option, integration with PSPs (like Adyen, Mollie, MultiSafePay, Ingenico, Stripe…) for online payments, digital invoicing allowing to combine invoicing and payment (e.g. PEPPOL platform or offering invoices with immediate payment option via UnifiedPost, ZoomIt or Doccle), "Buy Now, Pay Later" solutions (like Klarna or AfterPay) or new solutions like PSD2 Payment Initiation or the upcoming new scheme of SEPA Request to Pay (SRTP).
Improve integration between accountancy software (and/or accountant) and the cash management solutions and associated bank accounts. Solutions like Silverfin, TOCO, Yuki, OkiOki, Billit, Furoo, Clearfacts, Billtobox, sevDesk, Candis… can provide (a part of) a solution to this.
Usage of solutions for cash management (e.g. international cashpooling, sweep accounts…) and more general treasury management services offered by banks to their customers. These can be incumbent banks or new Fintechs, which specialize in the niche of serving SME customers. Examples are Tide, Qonto, Azlo, Arival, Fyrst…
Reducing costs of international payments and forex transactions via new Fintech offers, like XE.com, TransferWise, CurrencyTransfer.com, WorldFirst, iBanFirst, Ebury…, but also via specialized software tools, like Kantox, FiREapps, Money Mover, Acumatica…
Get cheaper financing via specialized credit institutions and banks (e.g. OakNorth, CapitalBox…), by issuing commercial paper (short-term paper) or long-term debt, via crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending (e.g. Funding Circle, Auxmoney, LendingCrowd, Iwoca, Look&Fin, Crowdcube…), via Credit Lombard loans or inventory-based loans (e.g. Finventory) or via invoice factoring (e.g. Edebex, Previse, Optimum Finance, GapCap, BlueVine, BillFront, Crowdz…). There are also more and more marketplaces and comparators assisting SMEs to find the best financing option, e.g. Funding Options, BusinessComparison, Crowdz…
Improve risk management (like currency risk, interest-rate risk, market risk, credit risk, counterparty risk…) via trade finance, like bank guarantees (cfr. Ebury), via better authorization and fraud detection mechanisms (detecting patterns and anomalies) or by better assessing counterparty risk (e.g. DueDil, InsideView, PitchBook…)
Apply tax optimizations, by optimizing for different tax regimes worldwide and also optimizing for tax deductions (like e.g. generate revenue on entities which have collected losses in the past)
Clearly the Fintech market for SMEs is in full evolution, but still quite immature. As a result dozens of offers exist, making it very difficult for SMEs (which was one of the reasons in the first place they work with Excel) to select the best and right offering(s) for their company. As such there is a big market for consultancy and other services firms, specialized in helping SMEs to improve their treasury management processes.