What happens to small business owners who have a gap in their digital skills?
It is getting more and more difficult for small business owners to avoid the online world.
I am not referring to people who are perhaps older than 65, where you might find it easier to appreciate a lack of experience, I am talking about the impact of the digital revolution on a proportion of the population who are lacking in digital skills, and increasingly unwilling to admit it due to an unspoken stigma.
Not only do they feel embarrassed to admit to a lack of digital skills, but a significant portion doesn’t see any need to improve their skills.
However, the reality is that avoiding developing your digital skills can be crippling for small business owners.
I recently worked with a highly successful bar owner. This person is not yet 50 but had never had to use a computer of any description. Consequently, making the step to take the business online had become a big problem.
They knew it was unavoidable and that it would improve the efficiency of their business, but it took several years of saying, “ I know I need to do this” before they were ready.
Every aspect of the business was affected.
The first step was to order the kegs of Guinness online. They had been ordering the kegs on the phone each week, a process that took a frustrating 30-40 minutes of waiting to get through, combined with a hastily handwritten note of the order.
Once we set up my client online, the same process now takes 5 minutes and the complete order history and accounts are available online.
Then we tackled the takings and the accounts, which had been recorded by hand in an exercise book. After the closure of the local bank, it had become time-consuming to go to the nearest branch, because they didn’t bank online.
When you have no experience online, it is neither quick nor simple to set up an online bank account. These fundamental tasks are challenging for someone with no digital experience.
The next step was creating a simple spread sheet to record the daily accounts and enable the owner to send the details to the accountant by email. This saved an hour-long trip to deliver the handwritten accounts and reduced the accountancy bill, as they had already prepared the spread sheet.
It also gave the owner an accurate overview of the business results and consequently better control of the outgoings and profitability daily.
These few simple steps have transformed a small business and the business owners’ confidence. We haven’t even started on social media or websites yet because the fundamentals of running the business had to be created first.
They may seem insignificant and simple to achieve, but when you have no experience typing onto a laptop, creating passwords, accessing logins, or keeping a filing system, it’s a minefield.
There are plenty of valid reasons for falling into the digital gap, you may have had a team of people doing it all for you, or it could be you worked in a job that made it possible to avoid going online.
What concerns me is the number of people who are embarrassed to ask for help, and whose businesses are now being affected because they don’t have the basics.
A recent report created by Accenture on The Digital Divide in Ireland states:
“When 35% of all survey respondents say there are no areas of digital skills that need improving – in their personal or professional lives – the prospect of closing gaps when it comes to advanced skills becomes more of a challenge. When that figure rises to 45% amongst the 45-54 age group, it becomes a cause for concern.”
Whatever experience you do or don’t have if you need help with taking your business online, contact #thenonscarytechylady for support.
I specialise in beginners, early-stage digital development, and simplifying the process.