4 ways to maximise small business efficiency

From leveraging insights to embracing sustainability and investing in security tools, learn practical strategies for resilience and growth.

9 May 2024

In today’s rapidly evolving world, small businesses face the challenge of having to stay ahead of the curve to remain competitive, resilient and protected. But what’s the best way to do that when owners are juggling roles and the rising cost of doing business?

From embracing digital transformation to fostering innovation, CommBank experts share the steps that will ensure your small business is built to adapt quickly and grow when the opportunity arises.

Leverage insights

Data, cash flow and insights are vital to the health of a small business. And in good news, collating data and forecasting pressures is getting faster. On the CommBank app, Bill Sense predicts upcoming bills to help you plan and stay ahead; Benefits finder can help business customers find and apply for grants and rebates; and for eligible accounts, tapping the Business Cash Flow1 view displays a snapshot of your combined money in and money out, as well as comparisons and trends.

Start your sustainability journey

One of the best strategic decisions a small business can make is realigning goals around sustainability. It can contribute to cost savings, enhance brand reputation, improve customer loyalty and even increase the value of your business. “To help customers achieve environmental outcomes while reducing costs and enhancing performance, CommBank developed the Sustainability Action Tool that suggests actions that businesses can take,” says Kerryn Saward, CommBank General Manager for Business Banking growth and transaction banking. This may include conducting an energy audit, switching to new technology like cloud computing services and learning how to reduce or dispose of waste.

Invest in security tools

There are a few things that James Roberts, CommBank General Manager of Group Fraud, wishes more small business owners knew about staying safe. “Any business can fall victim to a fraud or scam,” he says, noting that the most authentic-looking invoices, emails and text messages and legitimate-sounding calls can be scams.

Trusting your gut doesn’t cut it anymore. There won’t always be spelling errors, red-flag email addresses or late-night time stamps. The small businesses that are more secure understand that everyone has a role to play in raising awareness and educating each other on the risks. “The ‘Stop. Check. Reject’ approach can help businesses avoid losing significant amounts of funds,” says Roberts.

There are two security tools he urges businesses to embrace: NameCheck searches account details you enter when making a first-time payment in NetBank, the CommBank app, or when making an individual first-time payment on CommBiz. “Based on our available payment data, NameCheck will then indicate whether the account details look right,” he says.

CallerCheck is the other. It allows you to verify whether a caller claiming to be from CommBank is legitimate, by triggering a security message in your CommBank app. “It’s our preferred method of verification as a more secure way to complete the identification process.”

Develop your digital strategy

Small businesses are known for their creative problem solving and ability to adapt fast – their size makes them nimble. The flip side is that their size also leads to pressure points. That’s why small businesses stand to benefit most from finding their digital edge.

“It’s the simple things that often get overlooked, to the detriment of business operations,” says Saward, noting that a Business Transaction Account can help straightaway. “All the information needed to run, grow and make decisions for your business becomes available 24 hours a day.” Other quick wins can 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.

The key thing to consider is that true digital transformation describes the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business. “It should change how the business operates as well as deliver value to its customers,” she explains. “It’s also an internal cultural change that requires businesses to continually experiment, challenge the status quo and get comfortable with failure.” The reason it’s worth the risk is that the gains allow businesses to evolve and grow.

As for how a small business owner can know if they’re moving at pace – talk to fellow owners and find out. “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 are perfect for business owners and 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.

Start, run & grow your business

Giving you greater control, time and security, so you’re free to focus on what really matters – your business.

Things you should know

  • 1 Business cash flow is a tool for general information only and should not be solely relied on to make business, accounting, financial, tax decisions or to reconcile your accounts. While we try to present accurate information, we can’t guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information.

    This article was originally published in Brighter magazine

    This article provides general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as personal financial product advice. The views expressed by contributors are their own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of CBA. As the information has been provided without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs, you should, before acting on this information, consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and Terms and Conditions, and whether the product is appropriate to your circumstances. You should also consider whether seeking independent professional legal, tax and financial advice is necessary. Every effort has been taken to ensure the information was correct as at the time of printing but it may be subject to change. No part of the editorial contents may be reproduced or copied in any form without the prior permission and acknowledgement of CBA.

    For more information about the available products and services mentioned in this publication – including Product Disclosure Statements, Terms and Conditions, Target Market Determinations and Financial Services Guides that are currently available electronically – as well as information about interest rates and any fees and charges that may apply, go to commbank.com.au.