3 Small Businesses Using Technology to Grow
From e-commerce to mobile apps to software development, these business owners are innovating to grow their businesses
For many companies, the pandemic accelerated digital transformation efforts, and business owners embraced technology as a way to better manage their workflow. In fact, nearly eight in 10 of them (79%) reported that technology is often an enabler to their economic success, according to a Capital One Business Survey conducted by Morning Consult.
Still, implementing technology can be challenging for business owners, whether that’s shifting or expanding to an e-commerce platform or enabling remote work.
Here’s how three business owners are incorporating technology into their everyday work in order to grow their companies.
RichWine launched as an online wine retailer amid the pandemic
“The biggest benefit of launching RichWine as an e-commerce business is that we were able to keep our operational expenses very lean and continue to operate as a self-funded business,” said Kristen Gardner Beal, co-founder of RichWine. “This [allowed us to] focus on understanding our client, our market, sales, growth and outward expansion.”
Gardner Beal shared that leveraging a site builder made it simple to establish an e-commerce frame that fit RichWine’s needs, such as managing inventory and getting notifications for new orders. From there, the RichWine team can slate for delivery and manage logistics.
Launching an e-commerce business didn’t come without its challenges. “It takes time to establish a website and get it up and running, especially when dealing with direct-to-consumer sales,” said Gardner Beal. “And it absolutely should take time. It’s the first impression of your business, and you want that to stick!”
For RichWine, that meant taking the time to add descriptions for more than 400 wines.
In addition to making an engaging and “sticky” website, Gardner Beal and her co-founder, Lance Lemon, suggest continually simplifying the process. “Take a look at each step and see if you can make it easier or more user-friendly in order to get ‘less clicks to sale.’ The idea is to close a sale on each visit.”
Casa Mosaic reimagined its educational programming for a hybrid environment
Lisa Zajur’s innovative approach to teaching Spanish included complete cultural and language immersion through in-person, instructor-led classes. Her industry-specific Spanish courses spanned a diverse set of businesses, from financial services to construction to real estate to hospitality.
When she had to adapt her business model in the face of COVID-19, Zajur found the opportunity to broaden her approach through technology. Casa Mosaic now offers live and on-demand classes, in addition to a micro-learning mobile application to help users learn industry-specific terms and phrases.
“We’re currently running pilot programs for the hybrid learning approach,” she said. Pilot participants will be able to offer feedback about their experiences that Zajur can incorporate into her offerings. “It’s a constant, never-ending improvement process to transform the way we’re doing things.”
And with access to online courses, Zajur will be able to reach new audiences in a scalable way that can help her grow the business.
Erraz Compliance is developing algorithms to improve risk management for regulated financial firms
For Carlos Zúñiga, finding new ways to identify and analyze risk is a big part of Erraz Compliance’s future. The professional services company consults with large financial institutions to provide advisory services, including a review of critical programs, policies and procedures such as:
- Anti-money laundering and know your customer guidelines (AML/KYC)
- Financial crime compliance training
- Customer screening and investigative due diligence
- Anti-bribery and anti-corruption
- Sanctions and embargoes
- AML officer services
- Politically exposed person (PEP) reviews and remediation
- Customer reviews and remediation
Zúñiga noticed a longer-term need for technology in the compliance space, and he and his team are looking to fill that gap. That means integrating more than 150 compliance- and risk-related questions into an interactive software solution.
“We’re working on a dynamic software capability that uses algorithms to help compliance officers determine the risk level of certain customer behaviors,” said Zúñiga.
At the same time, Zúñiga had to adapt to conducting compliance reviews remotely. Not only did he and his team have to conduct remote risk assessments and audits—which typically take place in the office—but also they had to organize and onboard their consulting teams while fully remote.
“We relied heavily on the cloud to manage our team by utilizing case management tools and trackers, which kept the client and our management team informed of progress,” Zúñiga said. Those tools provide real-time updates, so stakeholders can access information at any time without requiring a manual update from an analyst.
“There have been a lot of changes when it comes to not being in the presence of other people and connecting with them,” Zúñiga said. “More discipline is necessary to remind yourself to meet and see people—you might not hear from someone for a few days. Touching base with teammates is a different interaction now, but we are experienced in the industry and have the technological capabilities to thrive in this new work environment.”
The Capital One Business Survey was conducted by Morning Consult among U.S. small business owners. Small businesses are defined as those with total annual revenues of less than $20 million. The survey collected insights from 1,150 business owners, including 150 Black business owners. The survey was conducted via an online panel June 1-6, 2021. The margin of error for business owners is +/-3% and +/-8% for Black business owners.
These businesses are current/past participants in Capital One’s Supplier Diversity Mentorship Program and Catapult program.