Be open to changing the way you do business

The thing to remember is that true digital transformation describes the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business. “It should change how the business operates and deliver value to its customers,” Saward explains. “It’s also an internal cultural change that requires businesses to continually experiment, challenge the status quo and get comfortable with failure.” For time-poor owners, this can sound like an impossible task, when running the business leaves little time for operational make-overs. But making time is critical: the gains will allow businesses to evolve and grow.

Don’t overlook the simplest changes

“It’s the simple things that often get overlooked, to the detriment of business operations,” says Saward, noting that switching to a Business Transaction Account* can help you straightaway. “All the information needed to run, grow and make decisions for your business becomes available 24 hours a day.” Some other immediate benefits include reducing admin stress by managing corporate cards online and increasing the security, transparency and speed of transactions with 24-hour visibility. “The data can give details on customer demographics and spending behaviour and much more – helping business owners derive insights that can lead to better decision making,” says Saward.

Collaborate with fellow small business owners

When you’re busy running your own business, it can be hard to know if you’re changing at pace or being left behind. One way to find out: talk to fellow owners.“With more than 2.5 million small businesses in Australia, it’s an entrepreneurial, dynamic and supportive community,” says Saward. Events like CommBank SmallBiz Week in Melbourne (28-30 May) are perfect for business owners and their employees to step away from the day-to-day and see what’s new, gauge their state of digital adoption and learn from other business owners’ successes and challenges.

Take a look at your day-to-day processes

The daily (admin) grind can make it tough for your employees to focus on the big picture, “It’s still very common for manual processes such as spreadsheets to be used by small business owners to track daily receipts and expenses,” says Saward, who believes there are many efficiencies to be gained by small business owners looking deeply into what internal processes can be automated or digitised. “This then reduces the time spent on administration giving time back to focus on what’s important to achieving business goals.

CommBank business accounts can be connected to accounting providers such as Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks to remove manual reconciliation.” And consider whether there are any procedures or policies in place that may be a barrier to digital implementation. “It’s really important that small businesses review and adjust as needed,” says Saward. “This could include relaxing internal bring-your-own-device restrictions, which may enable valued and trusted employees to make business banking transactions on their behalf using typically fee-free digital services.”

Get a grip on your small business data

In all likelihood, your small business is generating more data than you could possibly use. “The first step is all about building data literacy to be able to derive meaningful insights and apply it in a way that benefits the business,” says Saward. Make it an action point for this year that business managers (along with owners, of course) participate in data skills training to help speed up effective business decision making. “Step two is about digital familiarity, feeling comfortable to explore and use everything from dynamic QR codes and apps,” says Saward. Making a single simple change in business account settings could, for example, make the swap from paper to digital statements, helping you improve sustainability and efficiency in your business.

Consider the role AI has to play in your small business

It’s the buzz-acronym that won’t quit: AI. But how can it help your small business right now? “Where AI will work best for small businesses is when it’s applied to a specific business problem,” says Saward. Many of the digital tools you’re currently using could be leveraging this technology already. “At CommBank, we regularly use AI to deliver features and experiences for our customers that are highly personalised, easy-to-use and add value for customers during every interaction. We know small business owners are under a lot of pressure so to help, we have applied AI with our Benefits finder tool, to help business owners access the support they’re eligible for including government grants and rebates.”

Explore these CommBank digital solutions for your small business