Most Australians work in a small business, and a growing number are branching out on their own as freelancers.
This means more people working from home and using technology to stay connected with clients, create products and services, and promote their business − which means a greater need for fast internet, reliable IT systems and scalable online tools.
Big potential in remote work
Businesses with less than 20 people make up the largest share of employment in Australia and one in three Australians now regularly work from home, whether that’s from a home office or to catch up on work.
Freelancer Amanda Vanelderen runs her copywriting business, WorkWords, from her home in Brisbane, using online tools to work with clients all over Australia and internationally.
“Freelancing from a home office works for me because my tools of the trade are simply my tech and my brain power!” she said.
Amanda says being available for clients regardless of their location means her entire business depends on a good internet connection.
“Tools like Skype and Zoom are essential for providing copywriting coaching and training online, we work one-on-one and share screens.
“All of my copywriting packages include an opportunity to Skype throughout the project − you need to be flexible if you are going to work with clients who are in different time zones.”
Opportunities to work online will only grow, with midsize to large companies also increasingly turning to contractors, agencies and freelancers in an effort to be more agile. Using freelancers or remote workers means being able to access creative and technical skills as needed, with fewer overheads.
Pay attention to your internet needs
To thrive in a digital economy, your technology choices matter − and one of the most important considerations is your internet speed.
If you’ve ever been frustrated by buffering or waited an eternity to download an episode of your favourite TV show, you’ll understand why download speed matters. But in business, upload speed is also essential.
The NBN Corporation says that when it comes to high-bandwidth activities that require both downloading and uploading, such as video-calls and cloud computing, “the higher the speed available the better.”
High speed broadband makes sense for so many reasons, including:
- You create online content as a product or service: For instance, you’re a creative type that produces videos, designs or photos, or uploads multiple products on Etsy.
- You want to expand your reach: You need to collaborate, interview or pitch to people anywhere in the world, using video calls that may include multiple people.
- You plan on doing more digital marketing: You run a website as your primary marketing channel, or plan to publish more content online − the Sensis Social Media Report 2016 shows there’s an upsurge in small business social media activity.
- You’re moving more of your data to the cloud: Using file storage and sharing services like Dropbox and other online platforms such as CRMs, accounting software, marketing analytics tools, and email marketing services like MailChimp rely on uploading data to remote servers.
- A hyper-connected and cloud-based business world is becoming the norm, which makes a strong case for broadband.
Keeping your online business safe from threats
Remember, taking full advantage of technology also requires taking steps to maintain the trust of your customers. Online activity creates the potential for data breaches, hacking, or liability associated with creating multimedia or marketing content (think defamation or copyright infringements).
An incident can be as simple and innocent as attaching the wrong file to an email or using an image on a website which has been copyrighted, to more complicated situations such as a hacker attack and loss of customer information.
CGU’s cyber insurance, Cyber Defence, can help protect your business from the huge losses that a cyber incident can cause, and provide you with peace of mind knowing that if something happens you’ll be supported by a 24/7 incident response team ready to manage all cyber incidents and data breaches from initial notification through to resolution.
Fast, reliable internet underpinned by sensible protection from online risk will allow you to future-proof your small business, as you expand your capacity to seamlessly create content and work online.