Using today’s digital tools to succeed in a time of change

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Positioning to win

There’s no escaping it: we are living through a time of rapid and unprecedented change. The political landscape is shifting, new technologies and digital tools are coming to market at rapid speed and social values are evolving.

GoDaddy wanted to find out how businesses around the world are coping with the opportunities and threats created by all this change.

For that reason, we conducted a Small Business Research Survey in ten countries, including South Africa. The results of our survey confirmed that local small businesses remain optimistic and resilient, even in the face of challenges from digital disruption and cyber threats to political and societal turbulence.

Around three quarters of our South African respondents told us they expect to grow at least 25% in the next three years. This is an encouraging finding, given that small businesses are key to reviving South Africa’s growth and creating jobs. Even in a swirl of technology and political change, small business owners are focusing on what they do best: growing their businesses.

Love owning a business

We also found that local small business owners love being entrepreneurs. 91% of South African respondents said they would still start their own business if they had to make the choice again knowing what they know now, and 84% reported they are happier since becoming entrepreneurs. Nearly half say the best thing about running their own business is the flexibility it offers.

There’s a lot of talk in the business press and from government about the need to prepare for the fourth industrial evolution and the dangers that automation poses to the job market. We found it interesting that most of our South African respondents – seven in ten of them – felt protected against job loss as a result of automation, artificial intelligence and robots.

On the subject of threats posed by technology, only 7% of small South African businesses in our sample reported being victims of a cyber-attack, but for those who did, the consequences were severe. Those attacked reported that it shut down their business for some time, customers couldn’t reach them, they had to spend money to repair systems, and they lost access to accounts needed to service their customers.

Opportunities from technology

While technology disruption can pose challenges, it also helps small business owners to get up-and-running faster and reach new markets more efficiently than ever before. We found that half of South African businesses reported either having their own website (28%) or plan to build one soon (22%). Around 42% said they rely on social media platforms. Most of the small businesses without a website said they could not afford to build a website or did not have the necessary technical skills.

This is where GoDaddy comes in. Our mission is to challenge the idea that it is difficult or expensive for you, as a small business owner, to set up your own website. With our Website Builder you can build a website in under an hour without any previous experience or coding knowledge. We offer free customer support, so you can easily get help if you get stuck.

Four good reasons to get a website

So why would you want to create a website of your own if you already have a digital presence through your social media accounts? Here are a few ways your own website will help you take your small company to new levels of growth: 

  • Help customers discover you: People use Google today to find information in much the same way as they once used the Yellow Pages or their local newspaper. With your own website, you will have more control over search engine optimisation than you would if you simply had a Facebook page or a Twitter account – you can optimize what you want people to see, and how you want to present yourself. Your website offers a single stop where people can contact you and learn all about your business.
  • Look credible and professional: Customers today expect you to have a professional-looking website. A non-existent or out-of-date website makes you look out of touch with today’s technology.
  • Build a brand: Your own website helps you project the right sort of brand image for your business; you choose the domain name, the look and feel, and the content. It adds up to a powerful way to tell your story and showcase your products or services.
  • Be available worldwide 24/7: While you’re sleeping or going to meetings, your website can be working for you, selling your company to customers and giving them a place where they can find any information they need.

Social media is great for interacting with customers, but a website of your own lets you take things to the next level. You can, for example, gather e-mail addresses via your website and get consent from customers to send them personalised marketing content. You can also set up a blog where you can post business updates, how-to guides, professional opinions and other content to start conversations with prospects and customers.

Time to jump in

Our research found that owning a website has an impact on a small business’s outlook and reach. Among the global respondents, 67% of those with a website expected to grow at least 25% in the next three years, compared to 56% of small businesses that don’t have a website. Given that the barriers to entry are lower than ever, now is the time for any business without a website to jump in and get started.

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