Gone are the days when going to work meant sitting at your desk for eight hours, or standing behind the till of your store for the day. Instead, with the rise of technology and software, including management apps and the Cloud, being a small business owner means having the flexibility to work from a whole host of locations.

In fact, a YouGov study commissioned by First Data Merchant Solutions (FDMS) found that 44% of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners started their business because they wanted more flexible working hours, with a further 49% saying that it was because they “wanted to be in control”.

Remote working undoubtedly provides these opportunities – being able to work from home when the kids have a parents evening, working from a coffee shop round the corner from a big meeting, or even being able to check that the business is running smoothly on the weekend. However, making sure that you are digitally savvy is key in reaping the benefits of this new way of working.

Accessing the accounts

For a bar, for instance, Friday and Saturday nights are often the lifeblood of the business. But having to give up the weekend isn’t the most appealing prospect for a business owner. Instead, utilising a platform that provides access to company files from a phone or tablet, gives the business manager oversight of operations from home.

Matt Walsh, owner of Rio Bar and Restaurant, in Leigh-on-Sea, is a prime example of this flexibility. He commented that “On one occasion I remember logging onto the system from home on a Friday night to see how the takings were going. It was turning out to be a slow night so I jumped in the car, headed down and made some special promotions to entice people in. Coming down and making those changes meant the night turned out to be a busier one; at a commercial level, it’s the difference between taking hundreds or taking thousands of pounds.”

Managing staff

FDMS found that 31% of SME owners admit to worrying about losing control of the business when handing over control to staff. With Christmas approaching, juggling temporary and personal staff can become highly stressful, but the small business owner should be able to enjoy the festive period rather than be on call 24/7.

Implementing management platform, or investing in integrated ePos (electronic point of sale) systems provides visibility to which transactions are processed by which employee. These systems also display when employees clock in and out of work, meaning the business manager no longer has concerns about handing over control to staff. Full transparency within the business not only breeds a conscientious workforce, but gives the business owner peace of mind that their business is in good hands.

Growing your business on the move

According to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, 73% of employers aimed to grow their business over the next two to three years. With such high hopes, SME owners are often required to meet with investors, potential clients and the bank in order to prove the growth projections of the business. Incidentally, this results in being on the move frequently to meet with key individuals. Having the ability to look over your businesses takings at the end of the day, from your tablet or laptop, gives you oversight remotely meaning you’re able to spot areas of the business that need attention.

Remote working is becoming the norm nowadays, but it’s important that the right technologies are implemented in order to manage the business effectively. Whether remote working is accessed via downloadable apps or through an integrated ePos system, it is vital to assess which options can cater to the business needs, whilst ensuring remote working is the best option for the SME owner themselves.

By Richard Simon, Client Propositions Director, First Data Merchant Solutions (FDMS)