Tech-driven disruptive new businesses have emerged and are competing with traditional business. To stay competitive and grow sustainably, entrepreneurs can’t afford to fall behind in the technology stakes, says MTN Business. By David Mphelo
In 2017, South African SMEs have to move with the times to remain competitive. MTN Business believes the following are the top ten steps entrepreneurs should take to keep pace with the competition.
1Have a plan
Whether you’re in retail, catering, consulting, transport or any other traditionally non-IT sector, planning is critical to run a successful business.
SMEs have to actively explore the technology solutions that exist in the market, acquaint themselves with the technology tools that can help them grow their businesses, and with that information at hand, charter a plan i.e. an innovative strategy making use of technology to be more cost-effective, more efficient and to serve their customers better.
2Get smart about comms
Communications lies at the heart of the modern business. Any entrepreneur still using little more than mobile and data at consumer rates is not making the most of the plethora of channels and business bundles now available for engaging with stakeholders, partners and customers.
MTN Business offers SMEs the ability to manage multiple calls and queries, empowering them to provide their customers with a better experience.
MTN Mobile Private Branch Exchange (PBX) enables a mobile device to become a full-featured call centre service, offering reduced call rates and full management capabilities.
3Lock IT down
77% Of cybersecurity attacks are targeted at SMEs. Entrepreneurs may be more at risk than larger enterprises because many lack the resources for a dedicated information security team. Global cyber crime is predicted to cost businesses $2,1 trillion worldwide — four times the estimated cost of breaches in 2015.
Phishing attacks, viruses, DDoS attacks and lost or stolen mobile devices and laptops are but a few of the threats facing entrepreneurs. MTN Business has partnered with the vendors of best-in-class security solutions to bring to South Africa all the IT security solutions entrepreneurs need to mitigate risk.
Digital allows you to improve efficiencies, track assets more effectively, and manage sales, orders, shipments, contracts and more from a mobile device wherever you are.
When all data and systems are digital and connected, the entrepreneur can begin using and building on its data across departments to improve service and customer experience.
Going digital positions growing businesses to use Business Intelligence, CRM tools and data analytics.
5Get into the cloud
Cloud-based business solutions level the playing field to give entrepreneurs access to the same tools enterprises use, at a manageable cost.
Cloud solutions have brought a revolution in business operation by enabling easy access to data from any place where there is an Internet connection and eliminating technology management. Allowing entrepreneurs to focus on their core business areas, save costs and improve operational efficiency.
6Be open for business 24/7
The simplest tool for 24/7 market presence is the company website, yet more than half of growing businesses still do not have one.
Numerous options exist for free or low-cost website development, including MTN Business’s Build Your Business Online platform, which helps customers choose and register a domain, create customised email addresses, drag and drop content to build a website, and even set up a search engine optimisation function. When you have a website, customers can interact with your business 24/7.
7Maximise social media
When all stakeholders and all customers are active on social media, businesses have to be present in this environment too. World Wide Worx’s South African Social Media Landscape 2016 study puts local Facebook users at 13 million.
Twitter and Instagram are also strong in South Africa. Marketing and brand building on social media is possibly the most cost-effective way to engage with your target market.
8Use free business tools
Developer toolkits, business tutorials, strategic planning tools and basic business tools such as accounting and billing solutions, storage and sharing facilities are widely available for free.
For greater peace of mind, SME tools can also be accessed on a pay per use or subscriber model to control costs.
9Market your business more
Ineffective marketing is a major cause of failure among South African entrepreneurs. Within a carefully-laid strategy, entrepreneurs should embrace the brand-building potential of their website, contact centre, mobile apps and social media to build awareness and interact with their markets.
10Get strategic about partnerships
The right partnerships are crucial for the success of the SME. Entrepreneurs with limited ICT capacity need to seek out ICT service partners who can enable the digital business effectively, within budget. With our enhanced focus on SME development, MTN Business offers end-to-end business mobile and ICT services in partnership with global market leaders.