Today's small and midsize businesses (SMBs) can better compete with larger companies by leveraging recent technology advancements to enhance their users' experience, improve their local Web presence and facilitate interactions between coworkers and partners. Adopting new strategies can also help smaller companies develop global distribution networks and compete with enterprises worldwide. Here's how to get started.
Once the province of massive corporations, IT functions such as end-user protection, information security and password management are now also required by SMBs as their dependence on network-based technology grows, MSPMentor notes. But there's a more fundamental similarity that exists across businesses of any type or size: the need for effective communication.
In a recent interview, co-founder of race-timing system and scoreboard maker Westhold Julian Lin made the case that all companies share a similar underlying concern: "How do we communicate with employees, customers and suppliers?" By leveraging technologies that facilitate interactions, such as Skype, social media sites and RSS feeds, companies can help ensure global communications coverage. Westhold breaks communication out into three categories: one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-one. Lin considers email as a key element within all three categories. Regardless of the hype surrounding other technologies, never underestimate the power of a well-written electronic message.
Communication lays the foundation, but how do you ensure your company is ready to do business wherever, whenever? Lin has created global networks that allow Westhold to conduct business across six continents with just five people on staff. It starts with solid internal communication using VoIP and email, combined with online storage solutions, such as Google Drive and private network attached storage (NAS) systems. These are bolstered by cloud-based accounting, payroll and task management systems. Social sites like LinkedIn help team members connect with suppliers and partners. It's even possible to sign documents online with apps such as DocuSign and Signaturit. Wherever a Westhold employee finds an Internet connection, he or she has access to any and all necessary resources.
The last step in creating global distribution networks is finding the right partners. As noted by Business.com, achieving international success means finding manufacturing and shipping partners that understand both the local market and your brand. For Lin, this understanding goes deeper than simply speaking the same language. In his experience, the ideal partner asks a lot of questions. They want to know exactly what deliverables you need before proceeding, and they clearly communicate what they expect in terms of timelines and payments. When it comes to building a distribution partnership, listening is just as important as speaking. Make sure your prospective partner understands local customer expectations and any branding or labeling requirements.
Consumers now demand enterprise-level service and response from SMBs. With the right combination of technology and strategy, small and midsize businesses can help expand their global impact.
Westhold Corporation was a client of ADP, LLC. at the time of this article's publication.
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