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Survival of the fittest: How can technology help small businesses thrive?

technologyCanada’s failure rate for small and medium sized businesses is staggeringly high. Around one half of small and medium sized businesses survive past five years, while 15% don’t last a year. Today’s smaller businesses face a daunting task. The complexities of today’s market have created new risks, and myriad laws and regulations that can overwhelm just about any sized business. However, small business owners also struggle with finding the time and resources to survive. While poor risk management is often identified as a common source of business failure, an inability to cope with complexity plays an even greater role. The question becomes: How can smaller businesses cope with complexity? Technology is the answer.

Coping with complexity is not only about reducing risk; it’s about building the capacity to quickly adapt and respond to risks and opportunities, in order to enable business growth. To stay competitive to consumers and to employees, small business owners need to embrace technology. Emerging technology creates new and better ways of doing things, which increases business efficiency and mitigates risk. Adapting to new technology allows everyone to do their jobs better and to focus on providing added value—it offers a tangible, strategic advantage. Businesses that develop systems and procedures that enable them to manage their business growth daily, to foresee risks and to make proactive decisions will have a huge advantage over their counterparts who are continually in reactive mode.

Rather than viewing market uncertainty and increased regulation as insurmountable challenges, smaller businesses should recognize an opportunity to transform their business. Unfortunately, many small business owners are slow to adapt to new technology because they aren’t investing the time to learn about the technology that’s out there or how it will benefit their business. The technology window closes quickly—small business owners need to step out of their comfort zones and recognize the open doors of opportunity before it’s too late. Research shows many smaller businesses are uncomfortable being early adopters and make the mistake of waiting. Meanwhile, competing businesses are already making use of new technology and therefore, more likely to succeed.

However, small business owners must select the right tools before smaller businesses can benefit from new technology. The focus needs to be on where smaller businesses can gain efficiencies in their processes and what tools can help them achieve this. Emerging technologies can be used to save time and cost on repetitive tasks in areas such as document and contract automation, as well as contract analysis and compliance.

Currently, an array of useful software exists for managing contractual risk. One area where technology can help solve some of the challenges that businesses face is by mitigating the risk involved in drafting employment contracts—something small and medium sized businesses may find particularly useful. Any business with employees is subject to a variety of laws governing how employees are hired, fired, paid, and classified, and small businesses are not given any breaks. In most cases, the employer drafts employment contacts primarily, if not exclusively, and often without consulting lawyers. Additionally, all employment contracts should be reviewed periodically to determine if changes are needed. Failing to carefully draft and review employment contracts may prove costly for employers.

Tools exist to help employers cope with the complexity of employment law and contracts. Many tools have the added benefit of being easy so that the advantages are not offset by product complexities. Many tools offer automated template management and generation. This reduces or eliminates the risks, cost, and time inherent in employer-drafted employment contracts. One such provider is Miralaw who can help small and medium sized businesses achieve faster, more efficient, more consistent, and more compliant contracts, improving overall business competencies.

Although contracting has the potential to create many risks, selecting the right tools to manage these risks can protect smaller businesses from loss. Through the assistance of the latest technology, businesses can better detect and prevent potential regulatory compliance failures. Those businesses willing to experiment with new ideas, methods and technologies will often generate new forms of value and thrive. All that’s required is a business owner’s openness to change and willingness to invest in new technology.

Miralaw Inc.

Miralaw is an Ottawa-based legal analytics software company committed to increasing peoples’ access to legal information. Since 2013, they have been building the worlds best natural language processing system for the law to change the way people interact with and understand the legal system and help all stakeholders reduce their costs. If you would like to know more or find out how Miralaw can help you, please contact gabriella@miralaw.ca. Read more
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