Small business survival rates in the UK are as high as 91 percent after one year of trading. After five years, however, research indicates just four in ten small businesses will still be trading[1]. The downfall – alongside factors such as the domino effect of late payments – often takes place in the later stages of small business growth, when businesses wanting to run now that they can walk, find they hit stumbling blocks.

Small businesses account for 99.3% of the British private sector, turning over £1.9 trillion each year. There has been sustained growth in the total business population, with increases of more than 2 million – 64% – in the last eight years[2]. With almost half of the entire working population in the UK employed by SMEs[3], much is at stake when it comes to sustaining growth and accelerating business success. 

Prepare for Take-Off

The Harvard Business Review details five stages of small business growth[4]. After transitioning from Existence (obtaining customers), Survival (revenue) and Success (prosperity and stability), small businesses must navigate two more stages: Take-Off and Resource Maturity. It is in these latter two stages where digital transformation proves particularly fruitful.

During Take-Off, established small businesses turn to rapid growth, and the financial means to achieve this. Failure to traverse this high-growth stage can mean retreating back to the equilibrium of Success or even to the uncertainty of Survival.

In the last stage, Resource Maturity sees a decentralised small business retain the advantages of its size whilst flexing the maturity of its systems. Financial resources and managerial talent should ensure continued success. The biggest threat is ossification; lack of innovative thinking and avoiding risks can see a small business pale into irrelevance and eventually fossilise beneath hungrier, savvier competition.

Go Big on Customer Experience   

Research shows there is a strong link between customer experience and revenue growth[5]. In an age of Uber and Amazon, small businesses must compete to deliver the same frictionless service as global heavy-weights. E-signature, however, offers efficiency, security and a more seamless customer experience, whether you’re a multi-national conglomerate or one of the UK’s 3.4 million sole traders.

Digital tools enable small businesses to deliver a customer experience that meets the demands of today’s digital-savvy and time-poor consumer. For example, when customers take pictures of everything from themselves to what they had for breakfast, it makes sense to turn a familiar behaviour into a great new feature.

Mobile Document Scanning means customers can now use the cameras on their phones to scan documents such as disclosure packets, invoice approvals, and event waivers, and then edit, crop, resize and add multiple pages before importing to DocuSign.

Responsive Signing enables signers to see agreements optimised for viewing on their mobile devices. The document is automatically converted to HTML, so it loads 20% faster and can be read on any screen, encouraging a higher completion rate.

If transparency and trust are of particular importance to the customer relationship, Blockchain can provide that necessary reassurance. Our first Blockchain solution is here with a pre-built integration with the Ethereum blockchain. A document’s integrity can be verified using a neutral, third-party infrastructure, which no particular entity owns.

An Ego Boost for Business Owners

Confidence levels amongst British small business owners are not only 10% higher than the global average, but have quadrupled in the last twelve months alone. A recent study has concluded 41% of UK SMEs intend to fuel growth through agility, innovation and strong customer relationships this year, and an additional 47% of businesses plan to increase operational efficiencies to boost revenue[6].

This bodes well for an increasing digitisation of processes amongst small businesses, whether that be a two-person start-up going paperless or a once fledgling business increasing cash flow by having faster systems in place. By going digital and meeting the demands of today’s customer, small businesses can look to sustain growth for longer and reap the sizable benefits that e-signature has to offer.

Grow Quickly and Efficiently with E-Signatures

Signing documents is one of those tasks that can really hold a company back—a scanned paper contract could take weeks to execute, a lightyear in SME terms. If you want to move full speed ahead, you can’t have long, complicated processes dragging you down. Ultimately, you want to spend more time helping your businesses thrive and grow.

Join DocuSign’s webinar with special guest George Matthews, Franchise Support Manager at Hunters, to hear how this letting and estate agency streamlined the signing process for documents like NDAs and employee forms with an electronic signing service.

Sources

[1] http://smallbusiness.co.uk/business-failure-four-ten-small-companies-dont-make-five-years-2533988/

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/business-population-estimates-2017

[3] http://smallbusiness.co.uk/smes-driving-employment-levels-2539643/

[4] https://hbr.org/1983/05/the-five-stages-of-small-business-growth

[5] https://www.watermarkconsult.net/docs/Watermark-Customer-Experience-ROI-Study.pdf

[6] https://www.ldf.co.uk/blog/uk-small-businesses-primed-for-success-in-2018