Technological advancement, the power of social media and new ways of working have caused SMEs to rethink their strategies and tactics to compete in the market. How to grow a business in the midst of this reality influenced by digital transformation and constant innovation is one of the toughest questions of the new decade. Jose Duarte, a Costa Rican entrepreneur and eCommerce expert, provides the answers.

Contracts in part and, above all, remote work schemes have become key elements for business management and human resources. Everything suggests that by 2021 they will be even more relevant, especially teleworking. Large companies—which set the standard in the corporate sphere—have understood this reality and are doing long-term planning, in which remote work predominates. Facebook, for example, expects half of its payroll to work only remotely within 5 to 10 years. But beyond that, remote work and new work mechanisms help businesses grow by reducing operating costs and the possibility of constant operation, regardless of the limitations of the environment.

When wondering how to grow a business, the importance of finance must be considered. In this sense, one of the main reasons why a company fails to overcome the first years of life is the limited access to financing. Says Duarte, “It is essential to evaluate very well the different credit options and the ability to pay to really take advantage – with consistency and low risks – the opportunities to receive fresh capital and need to facilitate improvements and drive expansion projects.” On the other hand, it is only appropriate to go to formal institutions, such as banks, and state units and projects that allow the business to receive financing safely and with legal support.

One of the growth strategies for this 2021—as it has been in recent times—will be to focus the business on the customer experience. According to The Customer Experience Tipping Pointstudy, 50% of global consumers decide to purchase a product or service only if it guarantees them a satisfactory personal experience. Added to this value addition, of course, are other important buying stimuli, such as the recommendations of friends and family and the reputation of brands.

Adds Duarte, “In the near future, the increase in satisfaction ratings will depend– in large part – on the quality of digital communication channels and services: chatbots, engaging social media content, agile email responses, and customer-only mobile apps are some of the elements that play in favor of the user experience.” Within this factor, it’s important to take into account the shopping experience, as it also plays an essential role in the general perception of users regarding the purchase of a product or service.

One of the steps you can take to improve it—which will also increase internal order and control—is the implementation of a quality electronic invoicing system, as this will speed up the purchasing process and avoid annoying errors that turn into frictions that can demotivate a consumer. Simultaneously, you will operate with greater transparency.

Today, much of the organized and properly constituted SMEs practice e-commerce, but few make the most of this form of consumption. Explains Duarte, “To take your e-commerce strategy to the next level in order to boost your sales and profitability, you should follow key tips such as creating or optimizing your brand’s exclusive e-shop; having a presence on different social networks and post content relevant to your audience, not just regarding your products or services; marketing through an exclusive mobile app; using secure, intuitive and simple online payment tools and streamlining answer times for questions and RFQs.”

One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is to take the next step and know how to scale a business appropriately, so it’s critical to innovate with the use of technology as part of the strategy to improve company conditions. This is one of the primary methods to ensure growth in the new year.