Research suggests that around 50% of small Scottish businesses are on the lookout for ways to expand their business. Expansion means different things to different companies – for some it will mean bigger premises, more staff and more resources, whereas for others it might just mean streamlining current practices to increase work capacity.
Whatever your tactic, IT can be the deciding factor in how you move forward – not only using it to your advantage, but making sure it’s not the thing that’s holding you back. We’ll look at some popular ways of expanding – either with the aid of IT, or in ways that won’t be hindered by your current systems…
If you’re not sure in which direction you want to expand, conducting some market research can give you an indication of the gaps that you could potentially be filling. Of course, deciding how you want to conduct your market research is important too – the effectiveness of conducting telephone research is rarely worth the sheer time involved, so considering an email campaign might be more appealing.
There are some great tools out there that will help you do it. Cloud-based services like SurveyMonkey can be used to create quick surveys to send out to your contacts about the services they use and the attractiveness of other potential market areas you’re considering moving into.
If you’re keen to up your output without spending on expanding your infrastructure than generating more productivity from what you already have is the key. Poor organisation and procrastination are two killer areas for businesses when it comes to maintaining a high workload – and as a decision maker you don’t want to have to micro-manage to get the best from people.
Using a project management tool keeps people on-task, accounts for their time and can often put a spotlight on areas of your business that aren’t working to their full potential. ‘Basecamp’ is a great easy-to-use resource that you can scale to the size of your business – although if you’re Microsoft and cloud-based, having a look at Office 365’s ‘Project’ would be a natural first step.
We talked to a lot of businesses that don’t realise quite how significantly they’re being hindered by their network and systems. This isn’t to say that we advocate big spending to get things right – sometimes just tweaks of how things work can be the difference between infrastructure that works for you – or against you.
If IT is the reason you’re holding back from that expansion, office move, putting sales people on the road, working on a client site, or bringing more customers onboard – then talking to an IT partner is your must-do next step. Expansion rarely comes with no cost – but you’ll be surprised at how cost effective it can be to adjust systems to fit with your company goals – and a good partner will help you consider the bigger picture, not just the invoice for their services!
Many people aren’t aware that since around 2010 the Government has worked to make sure small businesses and organisations can bid for public sector contracts in ways that have traditionally been only accessible for bigger and more established companies. In short – there are billions of pounds worth of contracts that are waiting for businesses like yours to bid upon.
What’s important here is that your systems and practices meet with the standard expected of Government contractors. Fortunately, there are clear guidelines out there of what is expected – and one of the biggest that relates to IT is ‘Cyber Essentials’ and ‘Cyber Essentials Plus’. These are government-backed cyber security certification schemes that ensure your systems and practices are in line with their own.
Again, an IT partner like VectorCloud can take you support you around these accreditations – meaning there’s little standing in your way when it comes to landing lucrative and on-going Government business.
Whatever your goal, IT should always be on your side. If you feel like it’s not, there’s no need to let it keep you awake at night. At VectorCloud we don’t just support IT – we support businesses to thrive around their IT. For us that means getting to know you, your company and your goals – from there we can use our 20 years of IT expertise to help you move in the direction that’s right for you.
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