For a range of reasons, such as lack of awareness, skills or confidence, small business owners are less likely to set up a website, create a social media profile or trade with customers online than larger firms:
According to a study conducted by TalkTalk Business, 43% of small businesses surveyed reported feeling uncomfortable using social media, despite it being an accessible, cheap and easy to manage channel.
A survey by Hiscox highlighted that 64% of the small business decision makers surveyed said social media was either not necessary, they didn’t know enough about it, or had no opinion; only 12% were frequent users of social media, and 24% participated just occasionally.
A BT Business Poll showed two fifths of companies in the UK do not have their own dedicated website.
This failure to capitalise on the web as a profit-generating channel in its own right can result in small businesses missing out on sales and marketing opportunities. According to Web World, an effective business website can add value and satisfaction, improve credibility ratings, offer customer convenience and drive market expansion.
Having a social media presence can generate long-term, valuable relationships between a company and its customers, while serving as a low cost service channel.
The government has recognised the knowledge gap that surrounds small business online success by recently launching the Web Fuelled Business Initiative, a series of workshops to help SME owners leverage search engine optimisation and start selling in digital market places in a cost-savvy way.
Private training providers are also launching specialist digital courses to help start ups and existing businesses alike become established on the web.
John Davis, Managing Director BCSG Learning Solutions said: “We understand that some small business owners are wary of launching their products and services online, which is why we will soon be adding a digital focused training course to our range to help boost our customer’s confidence in this field. We want to show that the web can be easily embraced and employed to enhance success”