Did you know that more than seven million people in Australia, generating more than two thirds of private sector employment, work in small to medium-sized businesses – the powerhouse behind the economy?
Yet, while business confidence is at an all time high and unemployment at its lowest level in five years, numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that more than 60% of businesses in this category cease operating within the first three years of starting.
According to the Small Business Digital Taskforce Report to Government of March 2018:
- Businesses in this sector are time poor. Many are struggling to keep up with the administrative tasks that come with running a business.
- Businesses using Excel spreadsheets or even paper and ink to do accounts, invoicing, payroll and other operating processes operate more slowly and less accurately.
- Automated and digitised processes can free up time for business planning.
It is also important to recognise that the business environment has changed dramatically in recent years. Consumers are placing increased demands on businesses to meet their every need, from anywhere at any time.
But how do businesses rise to the challenge? First, they need to recognise what holds them back from competing effectively and find ways to overcome this. Digital technology offers emerging businesses in all sectors of the Australian economy both commercial opportunities and greater work-life balance, according to the report. Yet, one of the key objections is the perceived cost of adopting digital tools and the lack of skills to use them, according to a Deloitte Access Economics Connected Small Business Report 2017. With that comes the failure to recognise how available and emerging digital tools can significantly enhance business operations.
Five attributes of thriving businesses
It is important to note that technology is not the only answer to a sustainable future. According to the Digital Taskforce Report, businesses that are thriving in the digital economy have five inter-related ingredients:
- Business acumen – a tested business model, a good understanding of their customers and where they fit in the value chain, strong leadership and a vision for the future.
- Cash flow – enough financial resources to invest in technology and be flexible as circumstances change.
- Motivation to grow and transform – a willingness to experiment and internally disrupt their processes and business model to drive growth and transformation.
- Access to information – access to trusted advisers and support networks to allow confident decision making.
- Effective use of digital technologies –using it to improve business processes, drive productivity and enhance customer offerings.
These businesses have one thing in common: they have realised that to meet their growth objectives and remain relevant, they needed to completely change the way they work. Today, many businesses are making that change and managing business processes like financials, inventory management, ecommerce and supply chain (or as it’s more commonly referred to - Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP) to cloud-based solutions, which enables them to run an efficient operation with real-time insights into daily operations.
The proof is in the pudding
A couple of real-life businesses have reaped realisable benefits using NetSuite’s ERP cloud-based platform to meet their growth and organisational objectives.
Emma and Tom’s: Determined to forge enduring customer relationships and ensure superior product quality after almost a decade in business, Australian healthy drinks and snacks producer Emma & Tom’s decided to take its entire distribution process in-house. The small business needed a supply chain management platform that could manage the orders of 3,500 customers, delivery with 40 vans and scale to accommodate global expansion plans, all while maintaining customer service synonymous with its brand.
Emma and Tom’s replaced its MYOB software with NetSuite ERP to manage high-volume orders, a complex supply chain, financials, CRM and marketing, order management and warehouse and inventory management processes to gain an end-to-end view of operations.
With consolidated data on inventory across multiple warehouses and access to real-time data on delivery status via an integrated mobile application, the business has complete visibility across the entire order to distribution process, propelling it to impressive year-on-year growth.
Seven Miles Coffee Roasters is an industry leading coffee roaster in Australia. From sourcing outstanding beans to monitoring extraction flow rates they leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of coffee excellence whilst partnering with 600 cafes across Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra, and over 3000 customers online.
Operating on a disparate legacy system, Seven Miles Coffee Roasters needed an extremely flexible and scalable business solution to integrate the bulk of its business processes into one platform, giving the business real time visibility and insight into what’s happening, across multiple locations, at all times.
With NetSuite, Seven Miles Coffee Roasters has removed time consuming and manual processes by automating core business functions. The solution has allowed the business to eliminate the use of spreadsheets and streamline financial operations such as raising POs and tracking customer payments, reduce accounts receivable and free up teams to focus on more strategic projects. The company now has an end-to-end view of its entire business operation to build on its local success and drive expansion into new markets.