The first adaptation for many businesses is stepping from the Stone Age to the Digital Age

In a different feature we’d highlighted the fact that hibernation is really best left to the animal kingdom. They’re better equipped for it than we or our businesses are.

Once you’ve made this leap it won’t take you long to figure out the current challenges everyone is facing: the need to evolve and adapt. So how? What are the first considerations.

This might be bizarre for some to fathom but the starting point for many businesses, especially in the SME space, is to have your shopfront and get your website up. Now.

A Go Daddy study, conducted by YouGov Galaxy, concluded from a proportionate, appropriate sample size that as high as 59% of small businesses (classified as such with fewer than 20 employees) don’t have a website at all. Others cite as many as up to 1 million businesses as not having their own websites.

The reasons cited being 44% of them think they are too small, not big enough, 30% feel it would be too expensive and 17% don’t think they’ve got the time to build it.

If you find yourself in this mindset it’s time to rethink and adapt. We frequently hear or read about scammers; shammers and charlatans drawing large crowds or pulling decent market share and sales purely through their digital presence.

Often these are one-man bands or small outfits. What’s more many don’t have experience or credibility yet they still get away. If you think you’re too small you’re making it easy for some of these minions to get away with it.

There’s a well-known old quote suggesting all it takes for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Well the same is true for digital market. A total lack of your presence simply makes it easier for those less qualified to even begin to succeed.

As for investment, well in such a fast paced world of technology all solutions now have a variety of price points to suit all budgets. There also remains an element of truth that you get what you pay for.

Yet somewhere in the mix of technology and providers you can and will find the right platforms and experts to get your website and digital presence set up.

Think about it this way, if you work from a physical premise, unless you’re a builder, it’s unlikely you built your office space or premises yourself.

So the same is true for your fundamental web presence.

For those stuck in the Stone Age, you know thinking bricks, mortar and a tangible presence are important consider the following.

It’s about being seen where people, your audience are. If you consider for a moment that your virtual business was a physical presence, which do you think might be easier to find?

A shopfront on a main street clearly branded with your own name. Or a small 6 x 6 office, one of millions, tucked in the quiet back corner somewhere in a high rise amongst a massive industrial park of white label skypscrapers all serving the same purpose?

Your website is your shopfront. Social media (which we’ll get more to in a moment) may well have a place yet for a majority of businesses, social media is best suited to compliment their own primary presence. Not the other way around.

As for not having the time to build or maintain, well, adapting these days it’s like many other critical services you likely outsource Utility providers, book keepers, accountants and a plethora of other relevant suppliers. It’s all about finding the right ones who are credible, deliver what they say they will and don’t just treat your digital business as an automatic retainer with little effort to demonstrate the measurable value in return.

No surprise that millenials value the build of such platforms, higher… Gen X and Baby Boomers potentially under estimate some of the costs even with their modest expectations.

The reality is people were already online, even more so in the face of social distancing and restrictions to business.

If you can’t be found, it’s unlikely you’ll be chosen. If you’re not chosen those potential clients won’t contact you. If they can’t easily contact you even the best closer on the planet will have difficulty converting. And without conversions, returns, it becomes hard to get any value or measure what works and what doesn’t.

Digital Eagles five simple philosophies are a good starting point for those about to expand, explore and adapt to the times by upping their digital game. Make sure you can be found, chosen and contacted. Upskill your people so you can convert based on sound service quality and credibility. Then make sure you are tracking conversions as you’ll know then what to leverage more or less of with your digital footprint.

Some businesses in the SME space rely purely on their social media presence. In itself having a presence here is important and can be a great thing.

Yet to rely solely on social media pages as the face of your business is putting yourself in the hands of virtual landlords with a propensity to chop and change the way they operate and the all important algorithms that determines whether you’re seen or not.

Adapting to the digital age is essential. Just not in the way some people bang on about it. Which is where social media comes back into the conversation.

I know the digital footprint is important. So much so that not only did I set up a decent website I custom built my own online academy and learning management system. There are pros and cons in making this decision.

But even for someone, like me, who buys into the importance of digital, there are aspects not to buy into: such as the shallow game of social media, selfies, and bragging and excessive bravado.

Just because others play their digital cards that way it doesn’t mean you need to.  That’s another reason why it’s important to make sure you have your own website, your own presence and bring your clients back into your shop doors leveraging an appropriate, relevant social media presence instead of worrying about the bullshit and hype.

Having a digital presence now, a basic and solid digital presence is as important as having electricity.

On the other side of COVID19, the bounce back, some things will go back. Others won’t. There will be an element of business life that will open more, not less, opportunities, in the digital space.

So if you still find yourself waiting, it’s time to adapt and take a leap otherwise you’re at risk of becoming a dodo of the feathered kind.

Even history and cultures teaches us this. Those that adapted quickly new tools and inventions as they emerged (fire, iron, armour, gunpowder, rockets and nuclear) are the ones that get ahead.

A few simple things, done well, with quality providers, needn’t be the equivalent of a small fortune or cost your most precious commodity, being your time or focus on expertise.

Yet your website and digital presence have the power to elevate you from the equivalent of a business mumbling and grunting left in the stone age to compete and win on a grander scale.

In the digital age many businesses with few staff, or sole operators, with no physical presence, no tangible products (they just aggregate others) and no experience or skill are managing, then once you make the leap you’ll be ahead of the game.

And we need you to by the way. Given that, sadly, the digital age, as much as it weans out the weak from the strong, equally allows a complete amateur with little credibility, to equally get ahead.

In the digital world it’s not only cream that rises to the top. The lumpy, crusty, cling on, horrible bits have that capacity too.