These buzz words are everywhere: “digital transformation” or “going digital”. And though many interpretations of these words are also available, one thing is for sure – digital transformation involves the implementation of digital tools for SMBs.

Whenever a business or organization considers going digital, there are always a few barriers to entry and challenges to overcome, but there are also clear mistakes to avoid. 

Small businesses have taken to digital tools more and more over the past couple of years. In fact, a recent vcita survey showed that 96% of small business respondents implemented digital tools in 2021. However, all this digital adoption begs the question: how are small businesses fairing in the new digital era? 

Sources say 70% of digital transformations fall short of their objectives within businesses, which is why support is so vital in making sure your small business clients don’t become another statistic. By outlining the gravest mistakes other companies have made during their digital transformation, there is hope that other small businesses can learn what not to do and avoid history repeating itself. In doing so, they will become better educated and in turn reap the valuable benefits digitalization has to offer, such as increased earnings, better customer relationships and an overall boost to their business on all fronts.

Biggest digital transformation mistakes to avoid

Taking on too much, too quickly

When a business adopts a digital transformation approach, they often make the mistake of expanding too far and too quickly, leaving them with too many new “toys” to play with rather than  knowing how to fully integrate them into working seamlessly together. It’s important to constantly remind them (and we’ll say this a lot in this article), that digital transformation is a process and won’t happen overnight. Their best course of action is to consider their first step and go from there.

Having unrealistic expectations from the start

Another major mistake businesses make when it comes to digital transformation is having high expectations right from the start. Going digital takes time, effort and risks and small business owners need to understand that before diving head first. Encouraging your small business clients to keep the bigger picture in their minds and take a patient approach is beneficial to their transformation. They need to let time do its thing, and give the results a chance to prove themselves.

Choosing vendors instead of partners

When looking for digital solutions to implement into their small business, taking cost or past relationships into account is an error many businesses make. Although it might be true that a better relationship with a vendor might result in getting a better business deal, it might not always be the best suitable solution for the business’ actual needs. Urge your small business clients to ignore those factors and instead, to first consider what kind of tech they need and then conduct a market comparative analysis to understand the most suitable options available.

It’s also important to note that small businesses need a digital partner, and not just a vendor. Where a vendor will supply them with a solution and leave them to it, a digital partnership with a tech expert comes with all the fixin’s like support, implementation, and tailoring to the business’ needs.

Not taking employees into consideration

Digital transformation will undoubtedly alter the culture of any business, especially if it’s a small business. Roles might need to be redefined, some jobs might become redundant, and some employees may begin to feel unnecessary. Leaving employees in the dark will halt the small business’ efforts and make digital transformation that much more difficult to attain. Remind your small business clients that employees must be involved at each step of the process in order for it to work seamlessly.

Not putting users first

Customers’ needs are constantly changing and evolving, and small businesses must keep up with these changes in order to survive against big brands. Since a large part of digital transformation is improved customer service and relationships, knowing what their customers are looking for is an especially important factor in a successful digital transformation. In other words, knowing what their customers’ needs are helps them hone in on which digital tools to implement and when, saving them money by only investing in what they need. Facilitating, or supporting them in this research and understanding could be a lucrative offering to leverage for your small business clients.

Being stuck in the past

Digital transformation is synonymous with change, and small businesses need to embrace those changes, probably faster than any other sized organization. Small business owners may find themselves needing to completely revamp processes in order to make digital transformation possible, and that’s okay. Instead of building on old tech, they should replace and innovate. Any business stuck holding onto old tech will find it difficult to successfully carry out digital transformation. In order to avoid this, all relevant personnel must be properly trained, with goals and expectations clearly defined and small business owners must keep an open mind. By offering the newest and most innovative solution to their pain points, you can aid them in avoiding this major mistake in their digital transformation journey.

Thinking of digital transformation as a one time project

As mentioned above, many times in fact, digital transformation is a process, not a one time project. A big mistake many businesses make is to stop once they’ve achieved their goals. However, digital transformation doesn’t end there. The best practice for small business owners is to constantly seek out ways to improve and innovate as well as to keep up with the latest digital trends. With your help as their digital transformation partner, they should be able to have your support and constant out-of-the-box thinking so they can continue the digital transformation process throughout their business’ lifecycle.

Small businesses are perfectly positioned to go digital

Being a small business means having an upper hand in digital transformation. As there are less people running the business, it takes less time to make the decision to go for it and then begin implementation. However, being on their own can also prove to be difficult considering the amount of options out there. If small businesses avoid the mistakes listed above, take a patient approach and do the proper research, they can set themselves up for a successful digital transformation and forget about the statistics of digital transformations that fail. With your support and even a little nudging, your small business clients can embrace the change that is digital transformation and begin to future proof their business.