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A CEO’s Advice for Small Business


Brad Paterson, CEO of Splitit, shares his advice for how small businesses can prepare for the future of business and improve their bottom line. 


Brad Paterson

CEO, Splitit

Can you share a bit about your background in the global fintech world? 

I got my start in fintech about 20 years ago with Visa expanding its reach in Asia-Pacific. From that day forward, you could say I was hooked on fintech. My first role with Visa was building merchant acceptance and eventually shifting to support consumer and emerging payments in Australia and New Zealand. These early experiences gave me incredible insight into the role of payments, particularly with the emergence of ecommerce. I then helped start PayPal in Australia before working on expanding PayPal into Asia.

PayPal was an incredible experience, being just a few years after their IPO and very early on in their presence in APAC. The payment space was changing at such a rapid pace, and being front-and-center was fascinating, to say the least. After this, I joined Intuit to help small businesses thrive by making it easier to manage their finances. I would eventually move to the United States and lead the go-to-market efforts for the Quickbooks Online ecosystem. I joined Splitit just over two years ago as the managing director of North American operations before being named CEO in September 2019. 

How can struggling small business owners justify the cost of some tech applications to improve their business? 

There is no shortage of applications out there to enhance your business. Still, it all boils down to ensuring any technology you adopt must help you achieve your core business goals. The two significant hurdles most small businesses face when reaching their goals are time and cash flow. Any technology not simplifying how you run your business or enhancing your core competencies is not worth the money or energy. The ROI for any investment is as simple as measuring the time and energy I am currently not spending on my core competencies versus the total costs. The greater the investment’s savings, the more time and energy you have to make your business grow.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and economy. I am a passionate supporter of small businesses. It has given me great pride in all the work I have done over the years helping small businesses thrive and grow. From a technology standpoint, I see two key small business trends: a growth in omnichannel commerce and globalization. 

There used to be a debate about whether to launch a business with a physical presence or take an ecommerce approach. Those days are gone. Today’s business owners must embrace an omnichannel commerce approach and meet the customers where they are and need you the most. The pandemic expedited the decline of many retail businesses while fueling the rise in ecommerce. Now we are starting to see strong demand for in-store shopping. But omnichannel doesn’t just mean being online and in-store. Digital innovation means you can sell your products wherever your customers are by providing contextual commerce solutions without the need for either a traditional ecommerce or retail presence. 

Likewise, businesses are no longer limited to the close geographic location of their stores or ecommerce platforms. It has become much easier to take your business global with today’s marketplaces. Businesses can connect with suppliers, manufacturers, and customers worldwide, lowering the barrier of entry. The ability to exponentially increase your addressable market at a global scale can help businesses overcome limitations and competition at the local level. But this also increases international competition and provides additional challenges in logistics, regulations, and customer expectations. However, more companies are helping to ease the burden making operating a global marketplace manageable for businesses of all sizes.

Positive user experience is setting small businesses apart from their competitors. What are some ways small business owners can streamline the experience for their customers?

Quite simply, be where they are and be contextual. Knowing your customers is critical to your success. Understanding where and how they gather information, exchange ideas, and how they shop is essential. Ensuring your marketing and sales efforts map back to where, why, when, and how your customers shop will help set you apart and provide the groundwork for a positive experience.

Think about the entire context of the shopping experience and make it seamless and of the moment — for example, a bicycle store tapping into a passionate customer base on Facebook to fuel businesses. Businesses traditionally would look to move sales or even customer service from the platform to other channels — losing the context of the moment and providing a less-than-ideal experience. A savvy merchant would look at Facebook as a promotion, sales, and customer service channel without ever having to leave.

Imagine this scenario: a mountain bike manufacturer could do a Facebook Live broadcast of professionals riding the bikes hard on some challenging terrain, fielding questions and concerns about the bike, and offering the opportunity to buy the new bike by a link in the stream — all highly contextual, in the moment and a seamless experience. 

Please share the single best piece of business advice you have received. 

Remember, it’s all about the people. Surround yourself with the right people because together, great people will achieve great things. No matter where I have been, this has been incredibly true. Building the right team is never easy, and there are stumbles along the way. Still, when you get the right people together, the possibilities are endless. 

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