The enthusiasm, energy and desire of SMEs to improve and grow their business never ceases to amaze me.
Practically every business we interacted with at the recent Greater Birmingham Digital Academy workshops was desperate to embrace the huge potential of the digital world and, as long as they consider several key elements, the possibilities really are boundless.
Firstly, the digital sphere is not a means in itself and should not be isolated from the wider business strategy.
Rather, there are huge numbers of tools and processes which can be incorporated into a business but only if they help to achieve the wider objectives.
The strategy has to come first otherwise a lot of time will potentially be wasted on gimmicks.
Innovation sits at the heart of any successful SME and using a strategy tool like Co-Star can be invaluable.
If you know who your customer is, where the opportunity lies, what the solution is, who your team will be, what your competitive advantage is and what the quantifiable results are, you have yourself a coherent strategy.
Secondly, one of my favourite things about adopting more digital tools is the availability of accessible, accurate data which can be interpreted and fed back into the business.
In many cases, the results are readily available in the control panels and reporting sections of these tools so I would urge all businesses to extract as much of the data as they can from their digital activity.
Finally, and taking a leaf out of the Silicon Valley book, a fabulous benefit to adopting many of the digital technologies out there is that you can 'pay as you go', with no large-scale, up-front investment and the ability to stop and start activity depending on what works best.
So, if it contributes towards your strategy, can be easily monitored and you don't have to invest huge amounts to trial it, where's the downside?
Fail fast, ring fence the important parts of the business and learn quickly from your mistakes. Have fun!
*** Alexis Bradbury is a director of creative agency Browndog Design. He will be hosting a workshop on growing your business through digital at the free Digital Academy Summer School on June 24 and 25. For more information and the register go to www.gbda.org.uk.