by Eric Yu, SVP & GM, Commercial Product Center & SMB Segment, Intelligent Devices Group, Lenovo
As the next iteration of hybrid work continues to take shape, technology will play a pivotal role in creating efficiencies and opportunities that transform work environments for small businesses. Good leaders are constantly re-evaluating their technology needs for a reimagined workplace. In new work environments and marketplaces driven by millennials and Gen Z, business leaders should focus on key components such as accessibility, affordability and user-friendly technology to support growth and overall business continuity.
Whether your business is run from home, in a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment or managed from the road, having the right technology will influence your success. In order to help small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) flourish, Lenovo launched the Evolve Small initiative to provide financial aid, mentorship resources and community support to minority and women-owned small businesses. To learn more about the technology impacting their business, fueling their workflows and driving results, I connected with small business founders from: Bottoms Up Bagels, Fit4Dance and Fit Body by Ashley.
Here are some key takeaways our customers shared to help other SMBs:
Utilize technology to give your business a competitive edge.
“Adopting and leveraging the right technologies gives us a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced and digitally driven business landscape,” said Laci Chisholm, founder of Fit4Dance. “Technology also facilitates seamless communication and collaboration among our team members, even if we are geographically dispersed. Tools like video conferencing, project management software, and team messaging apps ensure efficient communication, boosting productivity and teamwork.”
The right technology can enable businesses to streamline communication and successfully enhance digital marketing efforts to reach a broader audience of potential customers. According to a recent study, 71% of SMBs use social media to market themselves. Leveraging technology to connect and communicate with key internal stakeholders can truly enhance the overall customer experience and provide the competitive edge to break through a crowded industry.
Strike a healthy balance between cost-efficiency and quality.
“You can’t improve what you don’t measure,” said Bottom Up Bagels founders Michelle Bond and Joan Kanner. “Take the time to set up your books. Pay for that accounting software. And, without question, get help from a professional to set these systems up. Once you’ve done all that, we can talk about the list of reports and system checks to perform weekly, monthly and quarterly.”
A top pain point for SMBs beyond striking a balance between cost-efficiency and value is securing funding to invest in the technology needed to scale their business. The cost for new, innovative technology is a concern for SMBs with a limited budget that doesn’t support high-risk investments. The keys to avoiding the price trap are to look for transparency and simplicity in the pricing model. Scalable technology pricing should not be complex. The best practice is to work with vendors and partners who provide simple, transparent, flexible as-a-service solutions without hidden fees and customizable services so you only pay for what your team uses.
Increase efficiency with multifunctional technology.
“Multifunctional technology allows me to stay organized and complete multiple tasks at once so it saves me a lot of time,” shared Fit Body by Ashley founder, Ashley Chatam. “I also use multifunctional technology while I’m on the go so it allows me to be productive even when I am not at my office.”
Today’s generation of workers are juggling multiple projects while balancing their well-being and need devices to support their busy routines.To demonstrate the importance of multifunctional technology, Bottoms Up Bagels founder Michelle Bond put it best when she said, “Can you imagine a production kitchen equipped with only paper notebooks for data entry, storage and retrieval? One person’s way of abbreviating ‘tablespoon’ may look like another’s abbreviation for ‘teaspoon.’ That could lead to costly mistakes – wasting time and ingredients. Instead, invite technology to be your friend.”
One of the biggest additions to Bottoms Up Bagels’ workflow was the ThinkBook 14s with Lenovo ThinkShield for trusted security and AI-based noise cancellation to enable efficient collaboration. The founders noted, “…the ThinkBook 14 made for great upgrades to the Bottoms Up Bagels team. Michelle and Joan said, “we want our team members to have the information they need to excel in their roles — whether that’s watching training videos on forming bagels or pulling an SOP for making our Jocus Pocus (smoked jalapeño) cream cheese. These light and portable devices will prevent bottlenecks while providing support in a way that’s familiar and fun to use.”
Grow your business wisely.
Considering what’s driving an entrepreneur’s desire to scale their business, Bottom Up Bagels founders Michelle Bond and Joan Kanner explained the importance of understanding the root of your motivation, stating, “Where is the pressure coming from? Is it driven by your investors who want you to have multiple locations in the same city? Is it driven by customers demanding expanded business hours? No matter what’s behind it, scaling demands your time and energy so having the right team behind you as you consider growing your business is crucial to its success.”
Building a strong team is a fundamental part of growing any business, no matter the industry. “The sooner you can delegate, the more efficient you’ll be and the better you can grow,” said Fit Body by Ashley founder, Ashley Chatam. “I definitely recommend investing in mentorship and coaching. You don’t know what you don’t know, so having expert eyes on your business to see the gaps and give you feedback is extremely valuable.”
As a younger generation of workers joins the business world, it’s important to recruit new talent strategically to grow and evolve your business while keeping your workforce and customers well equipped, inspired and satisfied. Gen Z is projected to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025 and studies show their capabilities with technology can advance companies productivity and innovation. Gen Z has never seen a time when the internet didn’t exist. All of their learning and skill-building has been intrinsically linked to technology. In order to properly enable today’s workforce to work productively in their environment, their devices must be flexible and portable to match their lifestyle.
Through smarter technology, such as innovative multifunctional devices, small businesses can empower employees to effectively work from anywhere. Investing in your SMB with cost-effective solutions, strategic recruitment practices and multifunctional technology will empower your team and drive business dividends for the future. I’m so grateful I got to share these top insights from this group of impressive and successful entrepreneurs.
As part of the Evolve Small initiative, these three Lenovo customers each received a $30,000 grant, $10,000 in technology upgrades and a special mentorship session with Queen Latifah. To learn how Lenovo has been supporting small businesses and to keep up to date on the Evolve Small efforts, resources, and technology solutions, visit Lenovo.com/EvolveSmall.
Eric Yu, SVP & GM, Commercial Product Center & SMB Segment, Lenovo Intelligent Devices Group, is responsible for the Lenovo SMB segment‘s global end-to-end business strategy and execution. He also oversees Lenovo’s global Monitors Business Unit and Accessories Business Units. With 20+ years working across different Lenovo business functions, Yu has a track record of understanding business needs and exceeding growth exponentially in various technology segments.