2021 | The Year Small Business Becomes Anti-Fragile

If 2020 was the year small business needed to be resilient to ride the COVID wave, 2021 must be the year to become “anti-fragile.  It has to now go beyond merely surviving and actively use the changes the pandemic has thrown up to growprosper and be successful into the next decade. 

It is nine years since US author and scholar Nassim Nicholas Talab published his work Anti-fragile: Things That Gain From Disorderbut the events of the past year have made it more relevant than ever. He explores how some things (read small business here!) benefit from shock and disarray and thrive when exposed to volatility, randomness and disorder.  He explores how tgo beyond merely resisting the shock by surviving and staying the same, to becoming significantly better and actually growing and becoming what he terms the very opposite of fragile – anti-fragile”. 

All small business is unique, that is a given. But we know the challenges of COVID are common to us all – increased pressure on cashflow, balancing the new mental health challenges the pandemic has put on our staff with the needs of the business as well as the need to keep up digitally however resistant some of us may be to this.  According to a report by Small Business Britain1 COVID has stimulated digital business to leap forward five years.  The World Economic Forum2 goes further, stating “…COVID has accelerated the arrival of the future of work” and estimates the UK is automating the workplace faster than any other country. It is riding this trend that is the key to achieving small business success into the months of 2021 and beyond. We firmly believe this will counter all the other challenges, including the pressure on cashflow and staff morale to build a better stronger, anti-fragile small business. 

Small but specific changes to the way you do things will have an enormous effect.  Take away the “time-rich, imagination-poor” boring but nonetheless important daily tasks from your staff and automate them.  Accuracy improves as the human element is liftedstaff morale and empowerment improve as you free up more time for them to do what they do best (which lets face it, is what you employed them for).  For example you might be a construction firm that spends unnecessary hours producing documentation to send between contractors for approval of jobs but desperately need staff hours to do more physical work; a legal firm with different departments that are continually wasting time (and billable hours) reinventing the wheel every time an NDA is sent to a client; a personal training organisation that creates bespoke plans for each and every client when really most plans conform to a set pattern that could be automatically created using a standard questionnaire.  Each business and situation IS unique and at Autto we recognise this.  However, recognising we all have a number of processes that could be done better is common to us all.  It’s giving the mind space to take the leap to change these processes that will catapult us towards being anti-fragile. 

“Yes, I can see the processes we need to change, yes, I can see there are some things we could do better, but let’s face it at the moment we just need to focus time and money on monthly cashflow and simply surviving”. The battle cry of many (most) small businesses right now.  But the technologies we are presenting here are NOT expensive – think less per annum of one employee on minimum wagePlus, Autto really IS simple to execute.  You don’t have to be an IT genius – one of our customers newest recruits took just three hours to come up with its first money saving automation on the Autto platform.   It really will save you so much money every month.  Our case studies show that automating your key processes will lead to a 75% time save – how much money thithen saves depends on whose time you are actually saving – the cost savings are infinite.   This is certainly something to make your cashflow predictions smile into 2021 and beyond. 

At Autto, we firmly believe that 2021 IS going to be more than just a better year for small business.  If we respond to the call to digitise that COVID has thrust upon us with enthusiasm and automate our daily business processes, we will do more than simply weather the storm.  Being resilient is so 2020 – 2021 is the year to move forward, future proof, adapt and become even better – truly anti-fragile.   

New immigration policies – a case for automation.

New UK immigration policies are under fire as businesses and pundits alike predict the effects of greatly reduced access to unskilled labour. The new points-based immigration system is designed to cut the number of low-skilled migrants entering the UK while making it easier for highly-skilled workers to migrate.

Low unemployment rates challenge businesses
According to the office of National Statistics, the UK unemployment rate of 3.8 per cent is currently at its lowest since the mid-1970s, adding to the impending shortage of low-skilled workers. Despite this high rate of employment, Britain suffers from poor productivity growth. Some economists believe that a ready supply of cheap foreign labour is to blame by discouraging companies from investing in technology.

Investing in automation
Home secretary Priti Patel defended the UK government’s post-Brexit immigration regime, saying: “If we invest in people, including  the right investment in terms of new technology and skills, more people would be able to work in many sectors.”

Businesses now have to think about creative ways to fill the gaps as technology and business process automation comes to the fore. The UK immigration plan states: “Businesses will need to adapt and adjust to the end of free movement … It is important that employers move away from a reliance on the UK’s immigration system as an alternative to investment in staff retention, productivity, and wider investment in technology and automation.”

The message is clear
Businesses will be under increased pressure to automate routine processes, allowing highly-skilled workers the time to engage in work that needs specialised knowledge, skill or the human touch.

According to Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England: “The UK’s low automation adoption is part of our lagging productivity, especially for SMEs, which is preventing a much-needed rise in economic growth, wages and living standards. Automation could bring about a new focus on better, more creative jobs and shorter working hours,” he said.

This assertion is prompting some economists to question if one of the goals of the UK’s new immigration policy is to push business to fix the productivity problem addressed in the government publication: Automation and the future of work.

Investing in R&D
To fulfil the need for more technology, the UK government has committed to increasing investment in research and development (R&D) in the UK from the current 1.7% of GDP to 2.4% by 2027, with a longer-term goal of 3%, but Automation and the future of work warns that the UK’s current immigration policy would limit the country’s ability to attract the right skills for automation and robotics. It states that unless the UK government and businesses are able to create a pipeline of UK researchers and workers who can support the domestic automation industry, it will still be necessary to recruit from overseas.

The current adoption rate of automation technology among small and medium-sized enterprises is only 4%, compared with 28% in large businesses. The report noted that SMEs generally lack management experience and digital skills, making it unlikely they will adopt disruptive technology.

No-code automation could provide the solution
But what about no-code automation technology? By reframing automation away from resource-intensive technology, such as AI and IOT, no-code technology makes automation accessible to all organisations, no matter what the size.

Easily accessible online technology, such as AUTTO can provide an alternative to overly complicated, expensive solutions such as AI. Online automation solutions can be set up to automate day-to-day business processes within an hour, giving staff time to prioritise tasks that provide the products and the service that can transform a business.

Hi there,

AUTTO is a no-codebusiness and document automation platform. No-code means you can build tailor-made automated processes without having to be a developer.

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