The evolution of technology and the surge in internet availability to billions of people around the word has opened many barriers for entrepreneurs. Small and medium scale businesses are able to grow exponentially because of the readily available information on the internet, difficult to access decades ago.
Technological advancements has given many businesses equal opportunities, by allowing competition through innovation and instant learning. However, if business owners fail to align with the changing technology trends and make informed decisions, they could face some costly challenges.
Modernization in the 21st century has introduced additional skills for businesses to succeed, compared to the conventional skill sets. Here are some skills business owners must invest in, to thrive in today’s marketplace:
- Web and Graphic Design: Acquiring basic skills in web design, coding and graphic design is necessary in this tech age. Every small business needs design skills to help in branding and establishing a footprint on the internet space.
- Social Media Marketing: The emergence of social media was aimed at connecting people around the world and as a result, these platforms are critical for businesses to reach their target audience. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on, have their peculiarities and the knowledge of social media marketing would help a business penetrate the marketplace, improve sales, customer service and in general understand consumer behavior.
- Social Media Tools: Managing time online can be a daunting task, hence, there are several online tools that serve as automation for managing social media pages including Hootsuite, Buffer, Tweetdeck, and many others. The knowledge of these social tools will save time and cost of hiring more staff.
- Written Communication: The digital age has opened many opportunities for entrepreneurs such that business deals can be sealed without physical contact. Effective written communication is essential for writing business proposals, letters, invoices, expression of interest and so on. The informal method of communicating via instant messaging applications like Whatsapp, has crept into formal written communication models. It is important to have proper writing etiquette, to avoid losing out on a business deal.
- Freelancing: Perhaps, one of the most profound 21st century achievements in today’s business environment is the introduction of freelancers. For small and micro-businesses, hiring professional freelancers for services like copy-writing, web designing, graphics, online marketing etc. saves the cost hiring full time employees and renting office spaces. This option has been made possible because of the increasing availability of the internet, enabling more people to work remotely.
As a small business owner, it is important to regularly evaluate the skills needed to thrive and stand out in your industry. There are also online learning platforms available, where skills can be learned and improved on. Some of these online programs are free, while some come at a very low cost. Examples of online learning platforms include Alison, Coursera and Udemy.
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234Finance is an online hub that promotes African Entrepreneurship. We feature small and medium sized businesses on the platform, shedding light on the current and future developments in diverse sectors across Africa. We also provide free resources, share opportunities and events on our platform that entrepreneurs can benefit from and thrive in Africa’s tough business landscape.