Many of us of a certain age will have fond memories of the Back To The Future Trilogy. The first film was released in 1985, the year I was born, so personally I do feel a certain affinity with it.

For those of you that don’t recall the movie, in part 2 they travel forward 30 years into 2015; a high tech world of flying cars, hoverboards and self-lacing trainers. 2015 marked the 30th Anniversary of the film, and much was made of the predictions the film-makers got right and wrong.

Flying cars aside, technology and its impact on our everyday lives has arguably advanced further and at a faster rate than anyone could have anticipated, especially in the last 15 years. That’s why you might be surprised to hear that many small businesses (some surveys suggest almost half) still do not have a website or any sort of online presence.

The most common reasons given for this? That’s it’s just not relevant to the industry, or that the cost is too great. The latter is probably a misconception and although the cost can vary dramatically, there are dozens of online sites which can now have a basic website up and running within hours for a few hundred pounds.

The more fascinating response is that it is not relevant to their industry. It would be interesting to find out from those owner-managers surveyed how they came to that conclusion. The reality for the majority of businesses is that this mind-set is probably ill-judged and in any case, if it is not relevant now it surely will be at some point in the future.

One prediction for 2017 is that in the UK we are set to see a huge increase in the number of cars sold online as customer demand for instant purchasing continues to rise. It seems almost all transactions and even life events are going to have some kind of online option or facilitation. Even traditional industries such as bookkeeping and tax are feeling the impact – We have previously discussed the growth of cloud accounting and particularly xero, which A4G are part of, and HM Revenue & Customs’ push to make tax digital.

Our website used to be a basic search tool with details of our services and interesting articles (including one about making use of your computer, what we referred to as the “One Thousand Pound Ornament” – hopefully no longer applicable!). Over the years this has developed into much more with our client portal, blogs, videos and social media links to improve communication with our clients and their overall experience of using a 21st Century accountant, and of course attract new business.

We therefore see this as an essential for future proofing any business. That phrase might have a different meaning to different people but ultimately it is ensuring you remain relevant in your industry, can continue to add value and avoid becoming obsolete.

 

If you are one of those owner-managers who feels that an online presence is not relevant in your industry, perhaps because your products and services can’t be sold online, think about whether any of the following would be useful:

  1. How can potential customers find you? You can be sure that someone out there is looking for you so even just having basic contact details is a start
  2. Customer testimonials – A potential customer is more likely to actually contact you if they can read about positive experiences from people they can relate to
  3. Showcase your portfolio – Share success stories and photos from past completed projects. Again, it can help build confidence and reputation
  4. Share your enthusiasm and knowledge – As an owner-manager understandably you will be proud of your business and its achievements so don’t be afraid to provide an insight into this
  5. Provide a forum for customers – Great for product/service improvement and development and for identifying problems earlier
  6. Connect with suppliers and customers – There are opportunities to cross promote businesses for mutual benefit
  7. Use social media to drive traffic – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the like can be used to access different demographicsIf you would like us to get involved with any part of developing your business and unlocking its potential, please give one of our Principal Advisers a call on 01474 856 857 or send them an email.In part 2 of this blog we will discuss some of the less obvious ways to future proof your business…

     


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