As futuristic as it may sound to some, the digital era has been around for quite a while and it is expanding at the speed of light. The ones missing out on it, are in fact the ones that we will soon miss. How to make a use of its inevitability and improve? Read on.

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It is completely impossible for any entrepreneur or business owner to now back away from digitizing or automating many processes that can be performed quicker, more accurate and with greater profit margins.

Whether it is a chatbot for your customer service, Facebook Ads instead of billboards, or a CRM instead of your little paper sheet, you are probably already living the digital as we speak.

The question is – are you using it to its fullest potential?

Digital (transformation) is a must

I have met many business owners who are running online businesses, but, somehow, in an old-fashioned way. They would still plan their marketing budgets to fit in posters, billboards, and parties instead of a lot more profitable and targeted channels such as social media, websites, or online media outlets.

Heck, I’ve even met a law firm that still doesn’t have all their laws and literature in an electronic format – they actually squander time and money leafing through a book.

This struck me hard, because I have been living in my tech bubble, surrounded by programmers, marketers and generally digital partners and friends.

It is not about money, as many would say, avoiding the topic of investing in a CRM, online accounting system, or even a responsive website.

“Businesses don’t transform by choice because it is expensive and risky. Businesses go through transformation when they have failed to evolve.”, said Howard King and he couldn’t be more right.

In that sense, I do expect my non-digital acquaintances to accept the digital era – at some point.

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So what are the must-haves?

I’ve laid out the three things I believe are crucial for doing business in 2017:

1. Go for cross-functional digital teams

Every employee is a digital employee. But is every employee you have cross-functional, too?

Your employees are those who get the business going every day, which is why it is important to challenge them. Especially the digital teams will often find themselves wearing many hats, and filling out many roles.

One dimensional work is slowly dying away, and soon every role will be doing the work of many traditional departments (customer service, sales, support, PR, etc.).

This is why for my business I chose to hire a completely remote team. These teams are in their core digital. They work faster and are better at making quicker business decisions.

Remote team members often rely on themselves to get the job done, which drives them to understand all parts of the business and have hands-on experience in all business areas. This also makes them easier to lead and manage than multilayered specialized traditional teams.

2. Use technology as much as possible

Beside the standard reasons for introducing technology into your company, it is in the details where the devil lies and where you and your team’s productivity (and profitability!) goes to waste.

So many specific and everyday problems can be solved with some of the thousands of simple tools out there. That said, you really shouldn’t pass the chance to make your business more secure, more reliable, and more productive.

The example that comes to my mind every time I think of this concept is a situation we had before introducing a password management tool into our lives. After having an employee lock us out of our Stripe account by entering the wrong password four too many times, it was pretty clear that something needed to be done to our password security.

3. Stop dreading automation

As comfortable as you may feel taking your steps into finishing up some dreadful paperwork or acquiring a new customer, the fact is, at least a third of your time and money can be saved by implementing some sort of automation.

If you still haven’t, start implementing at least first baby steps into automating your marketing, finances and lead generation. These areas have grown massive in the automation world. Never make a mistake on your accounts payable, never lose hours into sending some emails you don’t have to, or lose hours qualifying leads.

A simple, and in its basic package, free tool that can help you loads right away is Zapier. Even certain tricky tasks can be taken away from you and used more wisely.

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We’re not there yet – but AI is an inevitable future

Digital is here to stay – better get used to it

The more you can dive yourself and your business in the digital streams – the better. As this wave is getting stronger and stronger, it will soon make it into every pores of conducting business.

In case you still haven’t (or at least not to its fullest) – use its benefits, tackle its requirements and soon you’ll be reaping the rewards of.

And we’ll see each other in the future.