A businesswoman and a consultant work together before a computer.
While protecting your digital assets isn't No. 1 on your to-do list, the benefits of doing so — improved visibility and resilience to crises — impact your company significantly. — Getty Images/10'000 Hours

Most small- and medium-sized business (SMB) owners have numerous digital assets, or digitally stored pieces of information that hold value and are unique to their company. These assets — which may include things like contracts, white papers, and other documents — must be safeguarded to ensure longevity and future success.

“Businesses that don’t anchor their business strategy in digitalization will have a hard time surviving in the market,” said Marc Miller, Head of U.S. Operations and Customer Care for IONOS.

By securing their digital assets, small business owners can ensure their company remains front of mind for customers, develop a “future-ready” digital presence, and improve customer relationships.

“Future-proofing digital assets … involves implementing robust security measures to safeguard sensitive data and protect customers' privacy, which is essential in an era of growing data breaches and cyberthreats,” Miller told CO—.

[Read More: 7 Things Your Small Business Should Still Document on Paper]

The challenges of small business digitalization

While the importance of digitalization is clear, data from IONOS show that many entrepreneurs are hesitant to future-proof their digital assets, with SMBs showing an increased lack of interest in digitalization between 2022 (25%) and 2023 (50%).

However, even small businesses working toward future-proofing their business must overcome challenges, including:

  • Costs. Digitalization doesn’t come without a cost, as a business must invest resources and manpower to implement a solution.
  • Lack of time. Future-proofing your assets is not a quick process — it can take SMBs a long time to sort through assets and find a system that works for their needs.
  • Lack of skills/knowledge. Having the skills to digitize business assets requires strong organizational skills and technical expertise, which isn’t available on all teams.
  • The current economy and inflation. With the economy in flux, it can be hard for business owners to feel confident putting their resources into digitization where they may not see immediate results.

Despite these challenges, Miller believes digitalization efforts support SMBs' future and long-term viability. He noted that the benefits of digitally safeguarding business assets — including “improved visibility, growth, new business models, and greater resilience to crises”— outweigh the initial costs and efforts of digitalization in the long run.

[Read More: 7 Technology Tools to Help You Run Your Business From Anywhere]

Businesses that don’t anchor their business strategy in digitalization will have a hard time surviving in the market.

Marc Miller, Head of U.S. Operations and Customer Care for IONOS

Best practices for future-proofing your business

When it comes to future-proofing your business, the most important step, Miller said, is getting started. For small businesses that don’t have enough time, resources, or expertise to begin on their own, Miller recommends “choosing simple technical solutions.”

“If things don't go to plan, it can be easy to dismiss being online and think, ‘It won't work,’ however, it could just be the way they are approaching it that doesn’t work,” Miller said. “It’s common to experiment a bit and slowly feel the way forward.”

If you’re just starting the digitization process, Miller recommended building your digital identity gradually by focusing on the following:

  • Ensure your business is easy to find online by registering with relevant online directories, which can improve your visibility on search engines.
  • Create a website with a suitable address to effectively promote your products and services and offer helpful resources.
  • Add an e-commerce solution to your website to sell products, or develop a consistent social media presence and newsletter to keep customers in the know.

For businesses that aren’t sure where to start, Miller suggested seeking out a partner that can guide you to the right solution for your individualized needs, such as utilizing products that help increase your brand’s online visibility or build a well-designed website.

“Analyze regularly and … think outside the box, observe competitors, monitor new trends, and adjust the screws as needed,” Miller said. “Learn by doing, and don’t just throw in the towel — because at the end of the day, not being online is not an option.”

[Read More: How to Ensure Your Business Website Is SEO-Optimized]

Preparing for the future of digital asset management

In an evolving digital world, it’s increasingly important for businesses to consider the state of their digital assets and to make changes to adapt and future-proof them. Miller suggested that the future of digital asset management includes an abundance of new technologies, including the growth of content creation tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

“New technologies like AI are helpful and will become more critical in the future,” Miller said. “It is important for small businesses to take advantage of these new technologies and the changing landscape to help them get online with ease and successfully.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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