Advice for small businesses: Look to technology to work smarter without raising costs

Advice for small businesses: Look to technology to work smarter without raising costs

JOHANNESBURG – For most small business owners, lowering costs can sometimes seem like a daunting process that will draw attention away from the day-to-day needs of actually running a business. However, it need not necessarily be so. With the technology at our fingertips, there are many simple options available for business owners looking to save money and advance their businesses in ways that weren't possible even five years ago. 

Despite using Google search and Gmail in their personal lives, many business owners overlook the services Google provides specifically for small businesses, of which many are free. For instance, with a free Google My Business Account, business owners get more than a business listing. The free business profile lets businesses easily connect with customers across Google Search and Google Maps and allows business owners to post photos and offers to their profile to show customers what makes their business unique. 

The number of people working on a temporary basis has increased significantly in South Africa. Statistics SA estimates that between 2017 and 2018, temporary employment rose from 2.6 million to 3.9 million. This so-called “gig economy” is attracting all kinds of workers from professionals to low-skilled labour, and properly leveraged, will allow small business owners to grow their businesses while keeping overheads low. 

And it is often low-skilled workers who benefit from small businesses sourcing labour from the gig economy.

A good example of this is SweepSouth. SweepSouth is one of the major players creating and delivering value in the South African gig-economy for customers and workers alike, and through its app small business owners can book pre-vetted and user-rated cleaners as and when their offices need to be cleaned. Unlike many other cleaning services, with SweepSouth you only pay for actual time spent cleaning. 

This is particularly useful to organisations and businesses when cleaning staff are ill, on leave or absent from work, or when expansion or additional projects require additional cleaning capacity. Through their disruptive  business model, SweepSouth has created employment opportunities for more than 15 000 previously unemployed and underemployed domestic workers in South Africa over the last five years.

SweepSouth is just one technological tool developed in South Africa that small businesses can look to lower overheads. Another is fintech startup, Yoco. Yoco allows small businesses to accept card payments at far lower costs than traditional bank card machines (also known as speed points or bank terminals). Developed specifically for small businesses, Yoco says it has a customer base of 50 000 merchants across the country who use their range of products for secure credit and debit card payments. 

2020 is already panning out to be a difficult time for the South African economy and with fears that the Wuhan coronavirus could have an adverse effect on the global economy, small businesses need to be smarter and more nimble when looking at their business costs. 

Thanks to technological advancements and a smart approach to solving customers’ problems,, this needn’t be the major headache and attention-grabber many small business owners may fear it to be.