Spending your days in front of a screen? Businesses are too
BEC Kennedy's new online business Mummy Tea has no shopfront and she relies on technology and social media.
She wasn't surprised to learn more than half of Australia's small and medium-sized business owners spend half their time using digital tools.
Most of the Sunshine Coast-based businesswoman's customers find Mummy Tea through Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, and she spends about three days every week researching content to post, scheduling posts and responding to comments on social media.
A report released by Suncorp this week shows more than half of Australia's small and medium sized businesses are spending half their time using digital tools to connect, collaborate and conduct their businesses.
"Our research shows two thirds are using digital tools to keep pace (in) a changing operating environment and reach new customers, while more than half measure the success of their business against their level of investment in technology and innovation," Suncorp head of business customers John Debenham said.
Mummy Tea came from a realisation Mrs Kennedy had about people - and particularly mums - needing late-night shopping options.
"I guess I found myself shopping a lot more online, being a mum," she said.
"I don't have the time anymore to go shopping.
"I was loving doing it at 9 at night, and loving it when a parcel turns up at my door."
Suncorp's Cost of Being Connected report also found SME owners are spending an average of $17,000 a year on digital products and services.
This included computer hardware, technology-related products and services, information technology (IT) support and digital marketing.
Mrs Kennedy said she spent "nowhere near" $17,000 because rather than outsource, she had invested in training herself.
She said the use of social media in her business far outweighed the cost, and was much more effective, compared with other strategies for reaching customers.
Through tools and skills gained through training by The Training Collective in Maroochydore, she was able to keep the time she spent on her business' social media to less than a day and a half every week.
She spends about half a day collecting content for posts, half a day scheduling it through Hootsuite and a couple of other programs. She also monitored and responded to comments through the week, and that could take up to a day.
Mrs Kennedy compared her use of social media to her former market stall at Peregian Beach: "It was a little bit hit and miss - who was going past my stall," she said.
"It was better for me to spend money on advertising and social media than on a market, because I could attract the exact type of person I wanted."
She had thought she would miss the social interaction when she gave up the stall, but instead found she was connecting via social media with people on her professional level as well as with customers.
"I thought I would (miss the human contact) but because it's online and there are so many people online, now I have heaps of interaction with mums and business owners who want to work with me," she said.
"I'm really actually loving it. People reach out a lot more."
Suncorp's research shows this trend is catching on across Australia.