This week, Ofcom has called for a joint effort by regulators, industry and government to improve broadband services for smaller businesses. There are
5.2 million SMEs in the UK, and 83 per cent of these consider communications services to be fundamental to their business. In view of another recent report – by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) – which pointed out the immense importance of the internet as a driving force within the global economy, it is paramount that SMEs make the most of the opportunities the digital world offers to them.
1. Are you happy with your broadband provider?
While according to Ofcom’s research, 85 per cent of UK SMEs feel their business needs are well catered for by the communications market, a significant number expressed concerns about speed, availability, repairs, and choosing between providers.
The internet is now available to 43 per cent of the global population, an almost seven-fold increase of since 2000. Today, 3.2 billion people are using the Internet. They constitute not only a global pool of potential customers but also a global source of potential competitors, especially for the retail sector. If your business has any issues with broadband or 3G, try to get them resolved quickly so that connectivity problems will not put you at a disadvantage.
2. Are you using cloud solutions?
The rise of cloud computing over the past decade has transformed the way organisations use IT products and services. There are many benefits of cloud computing for SMEs, including possible cost savings, not only for IT but also by improving productivity, for example through fewer order delays and more efficient warehousing leading to lower stock levels.
While the initial buzz around cloud computing was created by the availability of abundant apps, SMEs are now advised to look at the bigger picture and acquire cloud solutions which support their business as a whole. WinWeb Cloud for example encompasses modules for business planning, accounting, invoicing, CRM, project management, sales, HR, helpdesk and analytics, all sharing the same pool of data and user interface.
3. Do you have a web site?
Many small business still do not have a website although most customers looking for a particular product or service will turn to the internet. A website is therefore as essential as a business card. And just like a business card it needs to be well-designed and convey what makes your business unique. Social media might make embarking on the online journey even more daunting for some businesses but again, ignoring these channels might mean missing out on reaching new customers.
The main point to remember when creating your website and other online profiles is that they help you achieve your business objectives. Just copying what someone else does is not the best approach. Therefore, before rushing into things, take a moment to stop, think, and make a plan.