By Paul Sparkes, commercial director for iplicit
Wind the clock back 20 years and there would be tens of pre-cloud solutions available from a multitude of vendors, serving small to medium-sized organisations across the UK. Each of these systems would continually evolve with increasing functionality to meet customer demand and outpace competition including Sage, Pegasus, Access, and Exchequer.
These vendors dominated the market and enjoyed decade-long growth and more, with extremely loyal users backing their every move. However, the emergence of cloud computing and the idea that software didn’t need to reside on-premise meant that many of the incumbent vendors had a mammoth challenge on their hands.
Understandably, strategies were devised to continue harvesting the base while attempting to cover new opportunities presented by cloud. This was a cliched path to tread though as dominant incumbents were obsessed with existing business models and struggled to step away – think Nokia, Kodak and Blockbuster, to name a few.
As these giants fell, nimble newcomers appeared with no customers to appease, zero revenues to fear losing and a visceral passion, belief, and clarity in how the new technology would disrupt the status quo.
In the accounting software world, this has been evidenced by the dominance of entry-level systems, such as Xero, with NetSuite for the corporate entities at the other end of the scale. These cloud-first solutions were therefore not burdened by legacy customer bases, historic contracts, migration challenges and cost challenges.
However, as these innovations took flight, organisations with 30-300 staff – who were too serious and demanding for entry-level packages nor wanted complex tools at the other end of the spectrum – were left with a lack of choice. In response, a vast majority of on-premise software users had to cope with unsophisticated upgrades that weren’t fit for purpose nor were true cloud solutions that met their growing needs.
That’s because the harsh reality of creating highly functional cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions requires a huge amount of investment in time, budget, and resources. And when presented with the idea that a tool may be four-years-in-the-making without revenue, that’s a courageous first step many vendors simply aren’t willing to take. And when others in the market have tried, and failed, to succeed when bringing accounting SaaS systems to life, the risk profile is often too high a bar to overcome.
Why ‘fake cloud’ needs to be eradicated from the market
In response, several organisations have opted for quick fixes – creating tools that use both their old and new system and are effectively ‘fake cloud’. In other words, their product looks like true cloud software on the surface, but the lack of performance and integration struggles are instant giveaways.
That’s why, at present, there are only a handful of high-calibre, cloud native finance and accounting SaaS solutions available within the UK’s mid-market – compared to 20 years ago when there would’ve been at least 50 tools on offer.
What are the next steps for the accounting SaaS mid-market?
Challenger brands will typically build what their target audience values, and therefore uses. And so, they’re disrupting a marketplace armed with the capability to look at the best ways to design intuitive software that provides maximum productivity savings, ultimate flexibility, and simple usability for high-growth companies.
As they continue to challenge the status quo too, listening to what customers and prospects are telling them, and responding as swiftly as possible, will be imperative. This shouldn’t always centre on functionality either, as service is just as important. For example, evaluating contract length and flexibility is a must for challenger brands to succeed in this arena. Typically, the mid-market has been accustomed to integrating a solution that comes with a three-to-five-year agreement – meaning they’re unable to switch swiftly to and from providers and are effectively being held hostage by their software.
Disruptive brands recognise the resentment among clients who feel ‘trapped’ and, ultimately, the winners will be those who offer all benefits without the handcuffs. As customers get wiser, more flexible alternatives will continue to emerge. And, the multi-year contract ‘lock-ins’ will seem prehistoric to up-and-coming millennial finance directors who have been more accustomed to monthly commitments and the option of cancelling at any time.
Although cloud software has been around for more than a decade, it’s only now that mid-market organisations are starting to see the disruption. Offering a greater level of freedom and agility with their solutions will prove to be more valuable than ever before.
What Every Small Business Should Do
The majority of the difficulties associated with establishing a business stem from failing to accomplish the small things correctly. The basics will lead you to the top, as any competent instructor has stated at some time.
If you’re thinking of starting a small business, make sure you follow these 10 small business rules:
1. You must keep track of your finances.
Lack of capital, is the leading cause of small business failure. You must undertake proper financial planning and fully comprehend the business levers that might affect your cash flow.
Do you purchase stock?
- What amount of cash should you have on hand?
- Do you have a system in place to collect money from clients?
- How long do you have to wait for them to pay you?
- Do you have any loans that you need to repay?
- Do you rely on suppliers whose prices fluctuate according to market conditions?
2. You must create a data-driven culture.
The better your business decisions are, the more data you can track and utilize to make them. Business often necessitates certain “intuition feel” judgments, but it’s preferable to provide your instincts with as much knowledge as possible.
Tracking your company’s key performance indicators (KPIs) and understanding why they rise or fall may help you make decisions that will help you develop and stay on track.
3. You must participate in Lean Planning.
Rather of creating a long-written document that you utilize once and then file away, it’s critical to create a strategic and financial plan and track it on a frequent basis.
Planning is a continuous tool that should be used to understand the assumptions you have about your business and whether or not those assumptions are valid, or whether you need to make changes and adapt your assumptions.
60 percent of small companies in America fail due to a lack of cash, not a lack of profits—by utilizing Lean Planning, you can rapidly determine if you have made any financial assumptions that will have a negative impact on your cash. Maybe you assumed you’d get paid every 30 days on the dot.
By engaging in ongoing planning and then tracking the actual results of your business against your plans, you can quickly determine if you are getting paid every 45 days, and if so, you can increase your credit line quickly and appropriately, keeping your business cash healthy—before you get into trouble.
4. You must have a strategy in place for attracting and keeping top employees.
We are continuously on the lookout for top talent in our industry, therefore we make it a point to follow talent in our region on a regular basis and design outstanding retention programs and rewards.
Take some time to consider your company’s culture and what you want it to be, and make sure that culture is factored into your recruiting selections. We utilize LinkedIn on a daily basis to follow and acquire talent.
5. Every day, you must listen online.
Even if you just operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, your business is “always on.” Every company should set up internet alerts to monitor what their customers are saying about them, their rivals, and the market in general.
Google Alerts is a fantastic (and free) tool for “listening” to what’s going on online. Be the first to know when a consumer leaves a negative review or when someone praises your company online. Use these methods to remain ahead of the conversation and capitalize on it. You need to get a business phone number too.
6. You must engage in marketing that generates a return on investment.
Small companies frequently tell us that they have no idea what marketing is. What should they spend their money on? Is it effective? Is it better to promote on the radio or on the internet? Should they believe the Groupon or Comcast salesperson who tries to persuade them to distribute discounts to the general public or buy local TV ads? What is it that works?
What does not work?
Small company operators should begin in venues that are both free and simple to access. Begin by forming relationships with local companies and company owners. Find out what it is that they do that is effective. Find out how visitors find your website and where they come from by using Google Analytics and your website.
Customers should be questioned about how they learned about you. And if you do decide to promote, make sure you know how to track it. Make a unique offer and keep track of it. Only provide one type of service or product. Repeat your successful marketing efforts after learning what works and what doesn’t. If you won’t be able to measure the results, don’t invest the money.
8. You must communicate with your clients.
Every company should communicate with its clients as frequently as feasible. If you own a retail store, talk to your customers at least once a week (if not every day). Discover what they enjoy—and what they despise.
If you own an online business, send a brief survey to your consumers or ask a few survey questions after they check out. Make a call to them. People enjoy talking and being asked for their viewpoint. Negative feedback might be difficult to hear, but it’s important to hear it and understand how you can improve your business for your consumers.
9. You need to know your competitors.
Both your direct and indirect rivals must be known and understood. You should always be aware of your rivals’ activities, including what they are doing, how they promote, and how they price their products.
You may be the only one of your kind in your town or sector, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have indirect competition. In my town, a small do-it-yourself tie-dye store has no direct competition.
They do, however, provide activity-based events and compete with all of the other businesses who host birthday parties and group activities. They also compete with other tie-dye merchants at Saturday Fairs and Markets. Even if they don’t have direct competition, they need to know how to position themselves against all of their indirect competitors.
10. You must have a larger goal in mind: a mission.
People like to work for companies that are more than simply a money-making machine. That isn’t to say that you can’t set sales or profit targets; it only means that if your employees believe they are part of a larger purpose, they will work harder and be more loyal.
5 Ways That Businesses Can Get the Most Out of Their Digital Marketing
Everyone knows that the world of marketing has been changing for the last two or three decades. The days of traditional marketing through billboards, radio ads and television commercials are still around, but something new is taking the world by storm. Digital marketing is the way of the future and has proven to be more beneficial for businesses everywhere. It’s not that traditional, offline marketing is completely dead, but it is difficult for business owners to deny the power of digital marketing and what it can do for their businesses.
Because the world has changed so much, people have now moved online, so a business owner needs to learn how to market their products and services digitally. If they do not, there is a huge risk that they will not be around much longer. However, the problem is that most business owners do not understand digital marketing. To begin, most owners do not fully understand marketing altogether, and they go for hiring a marketing agency to do this for them. But now, when you add a digital aspect to this scenario, it makes it even more confusing to the owners. If a business owner starts with simply knowing what digital marketing can do for their business and how to get the most out of it, this is a great place to start.
- Utilize Email
If your business is not using email marketing yet, you should be. It is far from being dead, and many people are just beginning to tap into what it can actually do for their business. To make the most out of your digital marketing efforts, advertising your company through email is essential. It could very well be the foundation of your marketing online. Email is all about keeping the channel open to your customer who you might not have seen in a long time or being available to someone who is simply interested in what you have to offer. Send occasional, nurturing emails to your following and customers to keep the dream alive.
- Build a List
Next, you have to build a list. Many marketers and business owners will tell you that you must have a list in order to survive. Now, the list is nothing more than a collection of information from your customers that includes their names, numbers and email addresses. You need this valuable information so you can email them and get in touch with them when things are dry. To get the most out of digital marketing, you should always be gathering this information from them and storing it for future use. Gather this information by running online advertising to generate leads.
- Do More Videos
To be the absolute best at digital marketing, your business should be using more video. This is because research shows that consumers want to see videos above anything else online. They don’t want to see still images and text, but they want to see you rock it through the camera. The good news is that this isn’t hard to do with modern innovations. Use your smartphone to record simple videos of your business and use these clever videos as the creative part of your digital marketing to catch their eyes and stop them from scrolling. The other great thing is that you will feel more like a movie star for creating videos.
- Build a Following
Now, it’s also important to build your online following. These days, it’s all about how many people you have “following” you online. These people are your audience, which is one of your valuable assets online. Don’t think that these are just virtual people that offer you known value. They are actual people who follow your company because they might be interested in what you have. It’s important to always build your following online. Increase your page likes and your audience, and your products and services will practically sell themselves. YOu can run specific campaigns to increase your following.
- Learn How To Target
To get even more out of your digital marketing, learn how to target the right people. Remember, you are doing all of this online marketing in order to reach people in hopes that they will make a purchase with you. To do this, you have to put yourself in front of the right people, not just anyone. But be happy, because online marketing makes it easier to find your customers. Learn how to navigate with digital marketing to find your right audience, and this will also make you stronger as a whole in your company. You will know your customer’s pain points, what they need and what they’re saying.
If you put a bit more effort into your marketing effort by learning how to do it digitally, you can definitely increase your profit and get the most out of it. With the right strategies and a little education, you can make anything happen online.
What Every Small Business Should Do
The majority of the difficulties associated with establishing a business stem from failing to accomplish the small things correctly. The...
5 Ways That Businesses Can Get the Most Out of Their Digital Marketing
Everyone knows that the world of marketing has been changing for the last two or three decades. The days of...
Transact365 launches seamless cross border payments in India
Transact365 enables merchants to transact locally in India Merchants can partner directly with Transact365 without needing to source local partners...
Cloud technology in banking: Why adoption is on the rise
Alpesh Tailor, Executive Director at digital transformation specialist GFT The banking sector has never shied away from innovation, whether...
A Smarter World: What role will electronics play in 2022
There has been a sharp increase in technology and devices designed to make our lives simpler, faster and more productive...
Top 4 Electronics Development from 2021
Phil Simmonds, Chief Executive Officer of EC Electronics. As we embark on a new year of business, it is a good time to...
Investing in workforce intelligence now, leads to an optimised tomorrow
Michael Cupps (Senior VP, Marketing, ActiveOps) discusses four critical ways in which a new world of workforce data improves organisational...
The Evolution and Challenges of Crypto Regulation
Cryptocurrency regulations are evolving quickly around the globe with authorities responding to developing risks professed by criminals exploiting the latest payment...
Europe’s first blockchain neobank, BENKER, opens for pre-registration
BENKER(http://www.benker.io/) is to become the first officially licensed blockchain neobank launched in Europe following approval by the Bank of Lithuania under the Electronic Money Institution...
AI-Powered Fraud Prevention for Digital Transactions
By Martin Rehak, CEO of Resistant AI Fraud is on the rise, thanks to the rapid escalation of digital channels...
The future of retail trading
Joe Jowett, CEO of StrikeX The 2020s look set to be the decade of the retail trader. As the...
Dissecting the expansion of online checkouts
Daniel Kornitzer, Chief Business Development Officer Card payments have long existed as the preferred payment method for online consumers....
How bug bounty programs can help financial institutions be more secure
Rodolphe Harand, Managing Director at YesWeHack Financial services have been one of the most heavily targeted industries by cybercriminals...
Resolving the unintended friction of Web 3.0
Marten Nelson, CEO, M10 Networks Media is buzzing about Web 3.0 and the metaverse. Companies and investors are scrambling to get...
Predictions for Alternative Data in 2022
Neil Chapman, CEO of Exabel 2021 saw various firsts for alternative data. The $1.6bn flotation of SimilarWeb evidenced the...
Why Zero Trust and securing the supply chain is key to post-pandemic recovery
Jim Hietala, Vice President, Business Development and Security at The Open Group Banking and finance have grown to provide...
Five predictions set impact the finance teams in 2022
By Rob Israch, GM Europe at Tipalti The CFO now has a very different set of responsibilities in comparison...
Three ways to reduce uncertainty in financial services marketing
By Patrick Costello, Senior Product Strategy Director, Optimizely According to Bain & Company, uncertainty is one of the key factors affecting marketing...
Bringing Automation to Banking
Ron Benegbi, Founder & CEO, Uplinq Financial Technologies Automation is everywhere you look these days; from supermarkets to warehouses...
Why financial services is stepping into a new era
by James Mingard, Head of Retail & Finance at Maintel When comparing industries, financial services has arguably fallen behind when...