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12 Steps That Could Help Your Small Business Start a Digital Transformation

Need to take your business into the digital sphere successfully? Here are the 12 steps to help you start your digital transformation for a small business.

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Did you know that 70% of companies have a digital transformation strategy in place or state they are working on? Of those companies, the majority complete their digital transformation strategy because of the growth opportunities that come with the change.

Dilok Klaisataporn | Getty Images

Digital transformation is essential in today's business and consumer environment, but taking the leap can be difficult. If you're going to survive in a digital world, you need to understand how digital transformation for small businesses works.

Related: Simplifying Digital Transformation at Your Small Business

To learn the twelve steps you need to transform your small business digitally, keep reading. We know exactly how you can get your digital transformation strategy off the ground.

Start with market research

Your company's digital transformation has to be centered on your customers. You can't be product-focused anymore.

Shift your worry and care towards your customers by conducting market research.

The companies that do the best with digital transformation have a great understanding of their customers' wants and needs. Ensure that you have a firm grasp on what those wants and needs are before you start diving into the digital transformation process.

As you're conducting market research, always keep what's best for the customer in mind. This will also help you understand the correct next steps and when the best time to take those steps is.

Organize your business

Before you make big changes to your business, you need to address the current setup that your business has. Who is in charge, and what does the hierarchy look like?

Think about how you can organize your team to be the best for the new switch. You don't want to go into a new strategy with the same old system.

As you're organizing your business, make sure that your team is open to the upcoming changes and more eventual changes after that. You have to have an adaptable team that will embrace change rather than run from it. 

Get your employees on-board

Now, it's time to tell the team that a new strategy is going to be implemented. You have to get all of your employees on-board to ensure that you aren't leaving any employee out of the new system.

Whenever companies undergo large changes, they have to have their employees on-board. If they're not on-board, the transformation could fail.

It would help if you made sure that your entire team will comply with the changes and support the reasons behind the changes. Otherwise, everything you've set in place may not come true in the policies you've made regarding this, which may not be followed.

Designate your leader

Your team leader needs to be the person who can bring everybody together, even when the changes become stressful. It would be best if you had someone that defines transformational leadership.

This is a strong person that can help every employee feel secure even when their entire work life is changing. This person needs to be able to bring people together and encourage people to take action. Your chosen leader should be the one that makes everyone else feel like a small part of something bigger than themselves.

If you have multiple leaders on your team, you should ensure that the head leader shows transformational leadership. This will show every team that there is a cohesive leadership direction.

Recruit experts

You shouldn't just depend on your current employees. Bringing in technology experts is what can make your digital transformation more impactful over time.

Bringing these experts to work with your current employees will also help your employees see different ways of looking at problems and solutions within your company. Make sure to have all of these leaders come together to account for every department in your business.

You'll want to make sure that everybody is represented and everybody is on board with the changes that are to come. Make sure that everybody is there to work together and do their part to reach the company's overall goals.

Focus on data

Make sure that you are focusing on data. By doing this, you'll be able to integrate digital solutions into every department in your company. This means that you need to keep data in mind for each piece of your company.

Related: What Small Businesses Need to Know About Digital Transformation and Disruption

Having a streamlined data strategy is integral to having a digital transformation be an outright success. You don't want your digital transformation strategy to fall in the cracks that you've left.

Numbers don't lie. Keep the data in mind at all times, especially when you're looking back on how the transformation is going and what you can do to mitigate any issues.

Obtain employee feedback

Employees act as internal customers. Getting employee feedback is one of the best ways to provide a positive experience for those "internal customers."

This will not only keep your current employees happy, but it will also show how your actual customers are taking to the digital transformation. Your employees' insights into the success of your digital transformation will be more accurate than the feedback of customers who may not have visibility to how that transformation is progressing. 

This means that you'll be able to figure out if there are any holes in your plans or any way that you can make the digital transformation experience easier for the employees that you currently have.

Address logistics and supply chain

Transforming doesn't necessarily help every problem that you may currently have with your customer experience. However, it can help you address or prepared to address many of the issues that may come about with your customers.

You need to address your logistics and supply chain. By improving these processes, you can improve your efficiency. Therefore, you will also improve your customer relations.

This stuff is similar to the step in which we discussed keeping an eye on your data. It's important not to lose sight of all of the background activities going on while your digital transformation is underway. You don't want to let go of your present customer experience while trying to improve your future customer experience.

Prioritize security

No customer wants to fall victim to a data breach. Before you think about launching your digital transformation, you need to make sure that everything is safe for the launch and the workings thereafter.

Data security, privacy, and ethics are essential to your customers, and not being attentive to any one of these things could cause you to lose a multitude of them in the blink of an eye.

Be sure that you take your own opinions into account when you're thinking about your customers' thoughts regarding data breaches. Think about how you would feel if all of your information was stolen. Keep in mind that most customers these days believe that their data will be breached, so don't let them believe that this will happen with your company.

Modernize your products

When you're starting your digital transformation, you need to make sure that you're looking into modernizing your products. You should be thinking about how you were delivering your products and services currently.

Think about how you can deliver your products and/or services in a more modernized way. This includes coming up with smarter delivery methods and more innovative delivery methods.

This is the part where you can get creative. Think about how you would want to receive your products and services as a customer.

Implant digitization

It's time to implant digitization and blur the line between digital and reality with your company. Think about how stores like target have blurred lines between their in-store experience and out-of-store experience.

Creating a seamless experience like this will prove popular with your customers. This will also show in the numbers.

Again, we urge you to keep the date in mind as you're looking through your digitalization performance post-implementation.

Personalize the process

It's hard not to copy other companies that are doing really well, but you need to make sure that your company is standing out on its own merits. Customers expect to receive personalized service from whatever business they are ordering or buying from.

Make sure to give your customers this personalization through any means you choose as long as the ideas are uniquely yours. There aren't many rules when it comes to product personalization.

Related:Digital transformation: 4 common mistakes to avoid as a female entrepreneur

Have fun and be creative with the process. As you go on, you'll become more comfortable with making these changes as a company unit.

Digital transformation for small businesses

Now that you've gone over the essential steps for digital transformation for small businesses, it's time to put that plan in place. Putting your company through these changes will help your company grow in the long-run.

If your company is looking for something to bring more customers in and improve the business as a whole, digital transformation is the way to go. Get started on your strategy today.

Digital transformation takes time, effort, and energy to execute. By following these steps, your small business can transform successfully and with longevity. 

Jimmy Newson

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Jimmy Newson is the founder of Jimmy Newson Consulting, a business consulting and advising firm. He’s also the founder of Moving Forward Small Business, a global effort to save 1M businesses from failure by 2050.