Owners on the Verge of Virtual Success

Technology means being your own boss is easier than ever for most small business owners.

Almost two-thirds of owners said technology gives them the flexibility to access business information remotely while 57 per cent use it to work away from the office.

The findings are part of a survey commissioned by Officeworks in partnership with The Daily Telegraph.

Working from home has enabled small business owner Salina Hainzl to operate her e-commerce store teas.com.au while reaping the benefits of a digital transformation.

“It’s funny to think I started 15 years ago with the humble spreadsheet and now I use Xero, an accounting platform to help control my finances,” she said.

But Ms Hainzl is in the minority, with almost 60 per cent of small business owners still using manual methods or spreadsheets such as Excel to manage their venture’s finances, the survey found.

While technology can unlock new opportunities for small business, it also brings new risks.

Ms Hainzl learnt this the hard way. After her website was hacked multiple times, she was shocked to discover that five days worth of tea orders had been lost.

“The confidence repair was exhausting and Google was very fast in showing the world our website was insecure with a warning to anyone who clicked on our links,” Ms Hainzl said.

The incident prompted Ms Hainzl to move her online business to Shopify, an e-commerce platform which offered better security options.

“It makes my life robust and flexible – it’s extremely safe,” she said. “I don’t need a web developer to be on standby anymore.”

Digital entrepreneur Jeff Bullas said if your customers are online, then you should be too. “Having an online presence makes it easy for customers or potential clients to find you,” he said. “It also engages them to purchase your products or services.”

Almost one in three owners use technology to help grow their business, the survey found.

Women also made better use of social media with 44 per cent using the channels to drum up new business compared to 26 per cent of men.

“Don’t try to excel on every social media platform at once,” Mr Bullas said.

“Focus on a few and then become proficient at those. Play the long game and persistence will pay off. But start now.”

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