Some business owners are digital natives, while others built their companies at a time when the pocket calculator represented the peak of digital technology. Nonetheless, as new technological and consumer trends continue to disrupt the commercial status quo, business leaders are more reliant than ever on digital skills to thrive in a competitive and economically volatile landscape. Unfortunately, soaring business insolvency levels point to a glaring skills deficit that could prove particularly perilous for SMEs.
In an interview with This Is Money, Enterprise Nation founder and chief executive Emma Jones CBE issued a stark warning to the UK government in November 2023. “A significant 6,342 companies were registered as insolvent in the three months to the end of June, 10 per cent more compared to the same quarter in 2022. What is abundantly clear is that the UK’s small businesses need support now to develop the skills required not just to survive but thrive.”
We look at 7 of the top digital skills that will help business owners and leaders to thrive whatever challenges the future may bring.
Sign Up Free
Create a free Square account today.
Whatever your personal attitudes to social media may be, it is an inescapable truth that social media is an invaluable tool for engaging with existing and prospective customers, promoting your offering and growing your brand.
Being able to use social media effectively requires an approach that is both analytical and creative. It encompasses a range of essential skills including:
- Identifying the social platforms your target audience uses
- Examining the times when your target audience is most active on social media
- Designing compelling social media marketing campaigns
- Creating a community space for customers
- Addressing customer feedback and complaints effectively and transparently
Managing social campaigns across multiple platforms can be challenging. Take a look at how Square makes it easier to engage customers on social channels.
Content marketing allows brands to generate value for their customers while also positioning themselves as reliable, authoritative market leaders in their chosen fields. Content marketing is equal parts art and science. Brands must research, plan and generate compelling, engaging content that is of real value to the target audience, helping them to address a common pain point. This content can come in many forms including:
- Blog posts
- Social posts
- Email content and newsletters
Take a look at how Square can help brands create, send and track compelling email campaigns.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) allows businesses to rank above their competitors in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). This digital discipline is essential for businesses that want to make themselves more visible online and gain an edge over their competitors.
Search engine crawlers deploy increasingly sophisticated algorithms to ensure that websites that post valuable, high-quality copy regularly gain a competitive edge in SERPs.
Take a look at our ultimate SEO guide for business.
Analytics and Business Intelligence (BI)
In the digital age, business operations are driven by data. Businesses are huge data repositories, with vast quantities of data describing their customers’ buying habits, their operational functions, their markets and even what challenges the future holds.
Business leaders can leverage analytics and business intelligence tools to make sense of this data and use it to influence future decision-making.
Take a look at Square’s suite of sophisticated business analytics tools.
Digital technologies bring myriad new opportunities for business. Unfortunately, they can also bring vulnerabilities, too. Phishing scams, ransomware and other cyber attacks can do massive reputational damage to your business, undermine customer trust, grind business operations to a halt and cost a fortune to rectify.
Business owners should invest in a digital infrastructure that leverages the highest standards of encryption, while also ensuring that staff are properly trained in IT governance.
Take a look at our guide to keeping your business safe from cyber attacks.
New advances in AI and machine learning have revealed the enormous scope for digital solutions to automate business operations. From using ChatGPT to generate e-commerce product pages to improving cash flow via automated invoicing, there are a wealth of ways in which automation can help businesses to run more smoothly without compromising the human touch that adds value and instils customer loyalty.
While the automation of business functions may require some human oversight and management, it nonetheless has colossal scope to reduce the administrative load on employees and leave them with more time and energy to devote to mission-critical activities or activities that generate added value for customers.
Take a look at some of the ways automation can help professional service providers.
Networking and thought leadership
Finally, no business exists in a vacuum, and while business owners may have their hands full with the day-to-day of their company operations they also do well to consider their company’s place in the wider world. Networking and building relationships with other business leaders and professionals can benefit business leaders in many ways including:
- Adding value to their personal brand
- Establishing themselves as thought leaders in their chosen field
- Introducing new audiences to their business
- Creating opportunities for collaboration and co-branding
- Learning from a shared pool of knowledge and experience
The digital realm helps business owners feel more connected to their peers with platforms like LinkedIn allowing them to communicate, collaborate and post thought leadership content to assert their knowledge, provoke conversation, and inspire trust.
Take a look at some of our networking tips for business owners.
Investing time, effort and capital in your own digital skills can improve your company, enhance business operations and enrich the experience of your customers and employees.
Contact our sales team to learn more about how Square could help your business.