Across the nation, businesses large and small are in for an unprecedented change in the way they process payments, whether they know it or not. With over $12B invested in Fintech during the last year alone and more than half of that going to companies focused on payments, new digital payment systems are entering the market at an increasingly accelerated pace. Businesses are faced with transitioning from the old method of writing and receiving checks to a new form of digital acceptance. Navigating that switch can prove difficult as old processes are like old habits - always hard to give up.
The way money is transacted between customers, business owners, merchants, and suppliers is a convoluted network of physical checks and exchanges. New payment technology is poised to change that, bringing long overdue efficiencies in speed and security to a legacy industry.
While large corporations have robust IT departments to help their transition to digital, small business owners preparing to adopt these new technologies are facing murky, unknown waters. Having built solutions that have helped millions of small business move into the digital payments space, I've discovered some few helpful tips that can assure smooth sailing:
Start by looking inward, not outward.
Ask yourself, why hasn't your company started using the latest payment technology? If the answer is simply a matter of inertia or resistance to change, spend time doing due diligence. Ask around your network and research online to get a better sense of how technology can impact your small business. If it's about cost, perhaps it's time to crunch the numbers making sure that your time and your staff's time is valued appropriately. This last point is often the hardest for folks to do. Everybody is busy and would love more time to focus on the issues at hand. In fact, getting back spent time is more valuable in my book then what my "hourly" rate is. Opportunity cost is the main reason. So when evaluating a specific technology, make sure to value your team's marginal time appropriately.
Let your business needs guide your decisions.
Examine the various parts of your business that are related to payments - sales, invoicing, bills, payments, accounting, you name it - and identify where you could use help. Chances are, there is technology out there to help solve it. Conversely, if there are areas where you are already relying on technology, assess whether you are happy with your current vendor's pricing and service. Since the time you started using a specific technology, it is very likely new options (and better pricing) have become available.
Take the time to explore all possible payment solutions.
The technology sphere is full of vendors. Think outside the box when researching what's best for your specific business needs by looking at what companies similar to yours are saying about the technology solutions they use. Look at the companies you currently use and see what recommendations or apps they have that are already connected to your current solutions. Look for their "seal of approval" and the reviews from customers to make sure the solution is vetted. Additionally, given the payments area, make sure you see other proof points around the solution. This could be awards, partners, or volume of transactions.
Get your team and company on board.
Change can be hard at first. No matter the business or the team, there will always be some people who resist change, while others will welcome it with open arms. Make sure you take the time to explain to your team why transitioning to digital is important to them, and the business as a whole. This gets back to the "breaking the habit" point above. There is a saying that if you do something 21 days you form a new habit. Keep this in mind when motivating your team.
Chart the course before setting sail.
Put a rollout plan into place. Start by updating the technology you already use and expand from there. It's okay to start with baby steps. Make just one change, observe the impact, and then adjust as needed. Assign one person to own the transformation and the success of upgrading each process you want to change. Giving folks ownership will get them to buy into the solution and find creative ways to make it successful.
Change one thing at a time.
In the world of digital transformation, there are so many new choices. Implement one change at a time, giving you and your team the ability to absorb, adapt, and make the most out of the new technology. For example, moving all your systems to the cloud in a rush will create confusion and ultimately derail your efforts before they can make an impact on your business.
Constantly innovate your business processes.
Entrepreneurship is about innovation, and that innovation shouldn't stop at the front door. The systems underlying your business also require innovation as you grow and adopt new technologies. Constantly evaluate and innovate those systems to ensure your business is taking full advantage of the latest advances in small businesses technology.
In the end, there is no set path for adopting these new payment technologies. Every business will approach it differently and with varying degree of success. What is important to keep in mind is that this digital transformation is inevitable. Start laying the foundation for a successful switch today to ensure your business's continued success tomorrow and into the future.