Our state today looks profoundly different than it did just a few weeks ago. States across the U.S., including Nevada, have implemented strict social distancing guidelines. Most businesses that could have transitioned to remote work and many brick-and-mortar shops have turned entirely to digital sales in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. And, while the shops are now slowly reopening and our state’s physical distancing restrictions are being gradually lifted, the implications of a period of such immediate transition and reliance on digital tools will be profound and lasting.
Our nation’s development and sweeping change to business practices generally happens more gradually, a quiet transition that works below the surface of society as new insights and technologies slowly shift the way we go about our daily lives. Technology, when used to streamline processes and connect people with resources more quickly and easily, can make industries more efficient and products and services more affordable and accessible.
Now, businesses — in order to stay afloat — have had to push the envelope as to what’s possible with our current technologies. And, as a result, we’re seeing up close and personal exactly how much digital business tools can do, especially for small businesses and entrepreneurs. It’s an insight into exactly where our economy is headed and a stimulus to get to that next chapter more quickly if we leverage this moment properly.
The idea that well-applied digital technology can create new business models and drive forward an industry isn’t new; it’s just more clear now than ever. In my own business, it’s a lesson we were founded on. SimpliFi Mortgage relies on a wide range of affordable and free online technologies to keep our process as easy as it can be, revolutionizing the mortgage experience by leveraging technology to “SimpliFi” the process for borrowers while maintaining exceptional service and rates. By using affordable online tools for file storage, internal document sharing, communications and even human resources we cut the clutter out of mortgage lending and make it a straightforward process, both internally and for our clients and business partners.
Our company utilizes Google tools because they serve as a one-stop-shop for virtually everything a small business needs, and if they are not free, they’re incredibly affordable. We can keep our search results optimized to reach customers near us without spending huge sums of money on expensive advertisements, which allows us to use our resources to create the best customer experience and keep prices (rates) low.
Our business — having carved out a niche in the market — exists precisely because we have affordable business tools at our disposal. And, based on a new study from the Connected Commerce Council, we’re not alone in our reliance on digital tools. The study found that nearly 40 percent of small business owners have depended on digital tools to find new customers during the pandemic, a reality I can certainly attest to in our experience operating through these troubling times.
The more these essential online business programs are introduced into industries throughout our local economy, the more of a leading role Nevada can take, not only in the recovery from the coronavirus shutdown but in defining our nation’s economic future and becoming a hub for high-powered growth in a plethora of business sectors, further diversifying our economy that was once exclusively centered on hospitality.
Right now, as the coronavirus has moved us to work from home where feasible, we’re constantly using tools like Google Hangouts to video chat and social media and content management tools to keep up with our online presence and reach clients online who may be interested in buying a home or, especially today, refinancing. That’s something every small business in distress can and should be taking advantage of. Use of digital tools has given us room to expand and grow our team even during these crazy times.
Today, it is essential that small business owners and other stakeholders communicate to lawmakers across the state and on either side of the aisle the value that online platforms bring to Nevada’s economy, particularly during this pandemic. While “big tech” has become a notion steeped in politics, the supporting role of technology companies for local businesses and economies is crucial. In a time when our nation is in an existential financial crisis, push back against the modernization of our economy must be set aside in favor of reasonable, pro-growth policies. And if our leaders can set aside the politics of division and ask what small businesses need to succeed, it will save our state’s business community.
Jon Gedde is the president and CEO of SimpliFi Mortgage.