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Between managing overhead costs, logistic processes, marketing expenses, and many other entrepreneurial woes, business owners have a ton on their plate to deal with. And with today’s competitive market, taking control of one’s business has never been more important.

In the attempt to keep operational costs low and sustain healthy margins, business owners — especially ones who’ve had to bootstrap in order to realise their business ventures — are compelled to strategise how and where they funnel their finances.

As such, they are forced to sacrifice a few important things—sometimes, to the detriment of their businesses.

Moving business practices to the cloud, for example, has often taken the backseat in many enterprises because entrepreneurs tend to focus on what they deem to be more pressing matters. These are matters that concern business expansion, day-to-day operations, and keeping up a healthy profit versus loss ratio.

For many entrepreneurs with little experience in tech, digitalising business practices can seem like a fancy embellishment to a business model as opposed to an actual, tangible necessity—but this perception could not possibly stray further from the truth.

This is why E27 partnered up with Xero, one of the fastest growing software-as-a-service companies in the world: to debunk certain myths on tech-enabled businesses and talk about concepts, trends, and insights on how one can harness digital solutions to effectively take control of one’s business.

Also read: Digitalising cashflow management and what it means for businesses

Currently, Xero helps 1.6 million subscribers worldwide transform their businesses through their cloud-based accounting platform that connects people to the right numbers—anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

Firmly believing that every small business pulses at the heart of the global economy, Xero wants millions of small businesses to thrive through better tools, information, and connections.

Going digital leads to better efficiency

The tangible benefits of cloud adoption were crystallised when we brought together a panel composed of some of the most innovative and forward-thinking founders. There, they talked about digital solutions as a means to drive business success.

Founders speaking on the panel were Zelia Leong of Anywhr, Lim Wen Ling of The Mindful Company, and Walter Oh of Boxgreen.

“Keep as much online as you can,” is the clear and simple advice of digitally-native jewelry brand The Mindful Company’s co-founder, Lim Wen Ling as she argued the necessity of reducing the distance between what is kept online and offline.

If we analyze the decision-making process of a business owner, the focus leans first and foremost towards appealing to the sensibilities of the consumer.

It must be argued then that if we allow the back-end efficiency of a business suffer, it trickles down to other aspects, ultimately compromising the quality of the products and services being rendered to our beloved consumers.

“When customers place their orders online, how far can you take the entire online experience?” Ling adds, “Integrate everything that you can: from order placement, to barcode scanning, to fulfillment, so that you get rid of human error.”

She says this helps keep transactions in her company a lot more efficient, more streamlined, and reduces costs on mundane operational necessities like printing.

Offline and online aspects of a business should work in harmony

For healthy office snack subscriptions service Boxgreen’s co-founder, Walter Oh, it helps a lot that the world is gradually shifting to digital because payments in his platform are largely done through digital banking processes, even if a fraction of his customers and vendors are not necessarily technologically connected.

While his business is dependent on physical distribution of products and goods, it is important to note that digitalising systems help shorten transaction periods and improve cash flow.

Also read: A structured approach to finding the next big thing

This is especially helpful for businesses whose nature requires a lot of time spent on the road, be it for deliveries, meetings, or business travels.

How technology optimises customer experience

In our saturated market, authenticity plays a crucial role in how consumers behave and how they decide on their purchases.

For Leong, co-founder of Anywhr, Asia’s first and only surprise trips curator, data gathering is a rigorous process that they have to go through in order to deliver authentic and personalised travel experiences.

Anywhr leverages social media insights such as Instagram postings in order to construct a unique destination experience for its consumers. It maps out tags used by people in their posts to identify interest points and supply destination options accordingly.

With the nature of Anywhr’s business, personalising destinations that are less-travelled is the lifeblood of her company. The best way for her team to streamline the act of gathering data is by digitalising the process.

The same sentiment is echoed by Ling whose business, The Mindful Company, thrives on creating inspirational products that are conceptualised based on authentic experiences aimed at nurturing the mental wellness of her customers.

Digitalising businesses help propel them to greater heights

It’s about time that entrepreneurs realise that digitalising a business will not sacrifice things like expansion, operations, and healthy margins, but will in fact, help business owners embolden them.

Like most businesses, Leong, Ling, and Oh admitted that they’ve had their fair share of struggles.

A lot of these struggles are attributed to the fact that business owners tend to be driven largely by a passion that isn’t necessarily backed by in-depth market insights and technical know-how.

This is why all three startup founders believe that in order for a business to succeed, one would have to deal with things that they don’t typically like to manage such as accounting and finances.

And it is a function of that belief that all three startups have chosen to digitalise their businesses especially the accounting processes, in order to reap the full benefits of technology and be empowered to focus on setting their businesses up for success.

At the end of the day, regardless of the years of operation, scale, and type of industry one belongs to, entrepreneurs share a common goal to stay in control and run beautiful businesses.