As of June 2015, there were 1,284,615 businesses in Australia with no employees and 584,744 micro businesses with 1-4 employees.
Women make up a significant proportion of these business owners, accounting for 34 per cent of all small business owners/ managers.
Increasingly, technology tools play an important part in running and growing a successful small business.
Social media, collaborative work tools, presentation platforms and advertising are all important elements of a modern business structure, influencing the research and development, planning, marketing, financial management and sales areas of the business.
For today’s students who are interested in becoming tomorrow’s small business success stories, the development of strong technology skills is vital.
Let’s take a look at some useful technology tools that can be used to support learning and which also focus on building entrepreneurship and business management skills for the future.
Infographics and presentation tools
Online infographic and presentation tools are important for small business owners.
They allow for the creation of infographics to display information, share product details, promote sales or build a following on social media.
Ideally these tools should be quick to learn and have a low cost for entry, minimising the cost outlay for a beginning small business.
Good examples include Visme and Piktochart.
Show students how they can integrate infographics and visual or video-based presentations with social media for more effective online marketing with a wider audience, particularly if they are interested in selling products globally rather than just locally.
Many students will have already experienced tools such as Padlet in the classroom in primary school.
As they become older, they are more able to self-manage their collaboration and discussion through platforms such as Wrike, Today’s Meet and Now Comment.
Collaboration is an important part of product development and ongoing, day-to-day business management, so it is helpful if students are familiar with a number of different platforms that can help them collaborate in the world of small business beyond the classroom.
In small business, it is useful to have short and long-term goals which apply to individuals, teams and the business as a whole.
Goal setting is often overlooked in importance as more immediate demands are placed on attention in a small business.
But with large numbers of small businesses going to the wall each year, a failure to future-proof a business by planning ahead and setting goals could be a very bad business decision.
Teaching students to begin each thinking process with a clear, specific and time-limited goal in mind can help them become more focused and on track with their business planning.
Tools such as Lifetick and Goal Buddy can help students find out about setting individual and team goals which build a strong work life balance and a targeted business outlook.
At the core of every successful business is the ability to manage the books effectively.
This means controlling costs, accounting for expenses, promoting and tracking income and managing tax and reporting requirements.
There are a great many financial management tools available, some of which come with hefty price tags attached.
Teach students to link their goal setting with their financial management skills as they develop the ability to manage weekly, monthly and yearly budgets.
Tried and tested financial systems such as Excel and MYOB are useful as you teach students about the finances of a small business.