Limber up to boost your digital fitness this autumn

Britain currently faces one of its toughest economic situations in recent memory.

Many UK-based businesses will be concerned about meeting the expectations of staff, customers and stakeholders this autumn, amid the oncoming recession and climbing cost of living.

Digital fitness is an answer that will stand many in good stead moving forward. This means having the stamina and resilience to overcome obstacles and maintain pace while pursuing your goals.

Luckily, we’ve seen some amazing examples of pluck, resilience and fitness over the past few months in the sporting world, including the Lionesses’ incredible journey to win the Euros, which help inform how businesses facing a tough autumn/ winter can continue to meet their goals resiliently.

Here’s how businesses should start on their digital fitness journey this autumn:

Seeing the value of digital fitness

We should start by understanding what digital fitness is.

Simply put, when every activity in a business is manual, it’s slow. The longer it takes to complete activities, the harder it is to grow a business.

For instance, a few years ago when I had a business, I found myself learning hundreds of tax codes and structures to get transactions right. It sucked my time away from serving customers and gaining their loyalty.

However, a baseline of fitness, whether digital or physical, can open up possibilities for focus, growth, and results.

By digitising accounting, for instance, automating HR practices, or simply scheduling social posts across all platforms, SMBs have more time and attention to give. From delivering best-in-class customer experiences, to ensuring cybersecurity is front of mind and opportunities for hackers are eliminated. This includes surviving disruption; Instagram orders kept my friend’s fabric shop alive during the pandemic.

The truth is this: you could get by without digital fitness – in the same way you could hire a cherry picker to get you to the top of a climbing wall. It’s expensive, time consuming and, crucially, doesn’t develop the muscle memory that will allow you to be resilient and strive for future goals. Plus, it won’t gain you any credibility.

Setting digital fitness goals

Set digital fitness goals by focussing on the core of the business. It starts by figuring out what tasks teams actually want to commit time and energy to – and those they wish they didn’t have to.

Consider these frustrating tasks that draw attention away from what matters. These are the tasks you should look to digitise, seeking specific solutions to upgrade your ability to tackle them.

I look to my sporting hero, sailor Pip Hare, for inspiration on this front. In the last Vendée Globe round-the-world race, she impressed critics by finishing halfway up the pack, despite having the second-oldest boat in the fleet. Recently, she upgraded to a much newer foiling yacht – the same one that had won the aforementioned race. She’s honed her skills and identified the hurdles she needed to overcome, and then upgraded the tech around her to achieve those next aims.

When it’s clear that digitalised technologies are needed, the next big question is how to choose the right fit. Some like Instagram are an obvious choice for many businesses. Others are not; accounting tech and HR solutions aren’t topics of everyday conversation, so how do businesses find the perfect one?

All businesses are digitally interconnected – when one of us thrives, we all do. So, SMBs should use their networks by connecting with other businesses in the community to hear their stories and recommendations. They should also attend talks and masterclasses from the world’s leading experts. As any sportsperson will tell you, training and learning alongside peers helps secure those marginal gains that matter.

Running the race with stamina

No long-distance race should involve sprinting from start to finish. When organisations are looking to develop their digital fitness, pacing is vital to ensure the best result possible.

If I have one motto, it’s this. For every new digital adventure, start small. In my cloud ops team at Sage, we do a proof of concept with every new technology we adopt. Before the investment – not only of money but also of time, energy, and trust –ensure it fixes the pain point you identified, and puts focus back on core goals. Once the best of both worlds is found, businesses can get moving with their tailored digital fitness plan. The fitter they get, the more opportunities and advantages businesses will unlock along their digitalisation journey.

Don’t be afraid to outgrow your digital solutions too. It happens to every successful business. Scaling up to a more complex solution may sound intimidating, but like any advanced athlete training programme, with the right coaching, the transition can be smooth and momentum maintained. Sit down beside a technologist or consider investing in a tech lead to reap the greatest benefits from more advanced technologies. This way, the business can continue to tackle its core strategy with as much focus as possible.

A digital fitness routine that produces results

While digital technologies are benefitting sport at an exponential rate, supporting human decision making with real-time insights, there is much that small and medium businesses (SMBs) can learn from the world of sport.

Like the training regimes and goal setting of today’s athletes and sports stars, tailoring the approach to suit individual needs is the most important consideration. Without the right guidance, much-needed energy will be wasted. With it, bold goals are achievable.

The same is true in business. Agility, strength, and resilience are possible for any organisation. Achieving them comes down to being ready to digitalise, getting set with the right tools, and seizing the opportunity to just go for it.

About the Author

Amaya Souarez is EVP of Cloud Operations at Sage. At Sage, we knock down barriers with information, insights, and tools to help your business flow. We provide businesses with software and services that are simple and easy to use, as we work with you to give you that feeling of confidence. Customers trust our Payroll, HR, and Finance software to make business flow with ease. From our local network of experts to our ever-growing partnerships, we are on hand to give you all the insights you need to thrive.

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