The small business conundrum: growth and innovation in the face of complexity and security risks

CHRISTOPHE PLA | March 3, 2020

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In the 2019 Global SME Pulse, small and medium businesses around the globe said they anticipated slower revenue and profit growth, but 74 percent were still willing to take big risks to ensure their success. No surprise there. For small business owners, their work—and their success—is personal, and small business employees are often equally invested. Together they innovate, push boundaries, and take risks; they’re willing to try new ways of getting things done as they grow and protect what they’ve worked so hard to build. These same qualities apply to how small businesses embrace and use technology. It’s not something they think about constantly, but it is another valuable tool to help drive their business.

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McCann is an integrated marketing communications agency with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. The agency has been continuously ranked among the top in Canada since 1915. McCann creates meaningful roles for brands in people’s lives and improves the performance and influence of their clients. mccann.ca

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Top 7 Small Business Tech Stacks for 2021

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 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 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 Technology 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. Tech-assisted Shopping 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. Software Integration 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. { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How small business owners use technology to improve the business?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "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." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What technology do small businesses need?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Small businesses must have some popular technologies such as HR software, Cloud computing, CRM, data and information security technology, mobile applications, etc." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Why do small businesses need technology?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "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." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What are the 3 tools for small businesses?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "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." } }] }

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How Can Small Businesses Accept Electronic Payments?

Article | June 23, 2021

In times like these, small businesses must quickly and efficiently adapt the ways they sell their goods and services. In a broad effort to protect the public, we have seen so many industries affected by government, city and other civic agencies’ restrictions due to the COVID-19. Here are ways small businesses can adapt and accept payments electronically using the Sphere solutions you have available today when cash isn’t an option. These include:

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How Can Entrepreneurs Capitalize on the Potential of Mobile Technologies

Article | June 23, 2021

The use of smartphone/mobile technology has become the new standard, permeating every area of life. As a result, it gave rise to mobile technology opportunities for businesses. According to Statista, there are currently 3.8 billion smartphone users worldwide, which equates to 48.20% of the world's population owning a smartphone. India, China, and the United States have the most outstanding smartphone penetration rates. Between 2016 and 2020, the global smartphone user base rose by 40%. WARC asserts, by 2025, 72% of all internet users will access the web only through their smartphones. With the primary data and projections, it is abundantly evident that mobile technology represents the future of the corporate world and commercial innovations. On average, in the United States, four hours of each day are spent on mobile devices, which account for more than half of all online traffic. COVID-19 created obstacles for many areas of society; many company owners encountered several difficulties operating their businesses because of the limitations imposed, especially small businesses. But, on the other hand, the pandemic provided an unprecedented boost to mobile technology opportunities in every facet of life. Mobile is gaining traction not just in marketing and retail but also in healthcare and education for convenience and safety reasons, and gradually gaining popularity. Patients could not visit their doctors during the pandemic but could communicate through text, virtual meetings, or phone calls. Similarly, the education sector saw a dramatic shift in its teaching framework when everything went online. With the increased use of mobile to link teachers and students, mobile technology became an unavoidable factor in the education sector. Save Time, Save Money The potential of mobile technology is evident when it saves company owner’s time and money. For example, apps replace paper forms, cloud solutions replace resource-intensive local filing, and scanning and image functionalities assist field-based customer or supply chain personnel. From mobile applications to the operating systems of mobile devices, there are various ways that mobile technology helps businesses save time and money. Here are few benefits of mobile technology how they reduce business expenses and time. Online mobile apps have reduced offline paperwork. Mobile communication does not include any additional expenses, such as those associated with setting up a landline connection. Even without being on-site, you may place or confirm business orders over the phone. You may use mobile banking applications to send and receive paychecks or any other type of payment without visiting clients or banks. Mobile technology is vital in business, from texting to phoning, sending voicemails, or recording them using VoIP. Cashless Payment Options Mobile technology opportunities opened a door for cashless payments. All these years, opting for this mode of payment had been just an option, but it became vital during coronavirus to avoid spreading the virus. Both online and contactless payment methods gained popularity among both company owners and consumers. With social distancing norms in place, more individuals in established and emerging nations began to embrace contactless payments as a safer method to handle their money According to Finaria.it, the worldwide digital payments sector is anticipated to reach a value of $6.6 trillion in 2021, a 40% growth in two years. Furthermore, by 2025, mobile payments are expected to nearly double in size and reach a value of $4.6 trillion. Numerous payment methods exist, including mobile wallets, peer-to-peer mobile payments, real-time payments, and cryptocurrencies. Contactless payments are significantly faster than conventional modes of payment. Mobile payments generate extra data on a user's habits and interests, which might benefit your marketing team. Remodel Shopping Experience The pandemic devastated in-person retail business, and they had to re-establish themselves in the market. Many consumers are comfortable getting access to a personalized in-store experience via mobile devices. In 2016, 209.6 million Americans shopped online at least once, according to Statista. The number of online shoppers is anticipated to reach 230.5 million by the end of 2021, making the US one of the most developed e-commerce industry-friendly countries. Looking at the above statistics and the customers' needs, entrepreneurs must meet consumers' demands and help them research, find, and compare items. However, as rising mobile components alter retail, it is critical for businesses to maintain their privacy. Mobile technology potential is vast and can offer several benefits to consumers. In addition, entrepreneurs can incorporate it into their businesses in an inventive way. Maintain Orderly Physical Spaces QR codes date back to 1994, but they never acquired widespread acceptance or were widely used. However, the pandemic's onset altered the entire situation. Because the COVID-19 standards for maintaining distance, avoiding physical contact, and exchanging anything were deemed hazardous, consumers began to prefer digital connections over physical ones. That is when QR code-based payments became the most convenient payment method, requiring only the use of a mobile device. The pandemic has created unprecedented opportunities for touchless technologies (QR Code being the leading player). According to a recent poll by Statista, an estimated 11 million homes in the United States alone were predicted to have scanned a QR Code in 2020. This shows an increase from the projected 9.76 million scans performed in 2018. QR codes are used to make payments as well as place orders. Elimination of physical touchpoints from your business provides a more seamless experience for your consumers. Winding Up While the utilization of mobile phones or smartphones is not new, the manner they are used has evolved considerably over the previous five years, particularly during the pandemic. Indeed, the mobile phone has evolved into the most helpful tool/asset for information, communication, purchasing goods, and scheduling. Rapid advancements in cloud technology increase corporate use of mobile devices by enabling more flexible working habits and remote access to services. FAQs What is the future of mobile technology for business? The business has a bright future with mobile technologies. Everything is becoming virtual, including the corporate sector, where mobile technology plays a critical role. In addition, mobile technology has aided in the communication of businesses. What are the effects of mobile technology on entrepreneurs? Numerous mobile technologies, such as smartphones, mobile applications, and GPS devices, link everyone and enable company owners to stay connected with their consumers. As a result, mobile marketing is gaining traction and assists small businesses in reaching clients, and contributes to increased sales. { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What is the future of mobile technology for business?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "The business has a bright future with mobile technologies. Everything is becoming virtual, including the corporate sector, where mobile technology plays a critical role. In addition, mobile technology has aided in the communication of businesses." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What are the effects of mobile technology on entrepreneurs?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Numerous mobile technologies, such as smartphones, mobile applications, and GPS devices, link everyone and enable company owners to stay connected with their consumers. As a result, mobile marketing is gaining traction and assists small businesses in reaching clients, and contributes to increased sales." } }] }

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The Importance of SEO for Small Business Websites

Article | June 23, 2021

An understanding of SEO for small business – SEO is short for search engine optimisation – and its benefits for small business is imperative to increase sales and focus your digital marketing. With Google by far the most popular search engine, optimising your website for the search engine giant’s organic–or non-paid–search results should be one of your chief priorities. This will increase visitors to your website, which can lead to more sales.

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Spotlight

McCann Canada

McCann is an integrated marketing communications agency with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. The agency has been continuously ranked among the top in Canada since 1915. McCann creates meaningful roles for brands in people’s lives and improves the performance and influence of their clients. mccann.ca

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