As a veteran of four start-ups -all still in business and thriving- one of the most compelling facts I have learned is that the technology tools exist to give us small guys the power of the big corporates.
The explosion of digital technology provides any start-up with the opportunity to punch above its weight and more importantly, where big business now goes, the start-up can follow remarkably easily.
The essential business trends for automation, analytics and efficiency, all designed to increase customer engagement and reduce costs, are being driven by big business, and all are commonly delivered by big business enterprise solutions with eye-watering price tags.
However, in their wake there is a growing army of young technology companies (the “disrupters”) capable of delivering the same impact, but at a fraction of the cost.
Often cloud-based and without the need for huge up-front costs or long term financial commitment, the new disruptive technology tools from these companies allow a start-up to be agile and scalable from the word go.
We needed an answering service to allow us to get out and sell, and so used Moneypenny, which offers a remote service, with a big company feel. When we needed a voice over for our own telephone system, we went to Fiver, an online business outsource marketplace where you can buy any business or creative service from a network of talented people for $5.
When we needed a booking service, we found the likes of Appointedd, an online appointment system that is as vital and effective for plumbing services as it is for a hairdresser, restaurant or B&B.
When we needed a payment system, not only did we find iZettle, a simple to set up mobile card reader, but we also went on to design our own electronic point of sale (epos) iPad compatible app, intellingentpos which did everything we needed. Now we have a growing ‘disruptive’ business of our own supplying computerised cash register software and hardware principally to the retail and hospitality sectors. 66 per cent of our customers are small businesses with one till and 30 per cent turn over less than £100k per year. With our system all have the capability to process payments as well as monitor their sales, manage stock, check staffing levels and alter products and offers remotely, just as effectively as a top global business.
Starting up a business is an amazing experience. It is about being innovative and dynamic while the technology is out there to allow you to act big from the start.
Robin Knox is the founder and CEO of Intelligent Point of Sale Limited @intelligentpos