Research finds a quarter of SME owners buying digital tools, but not activating them. 27% haven’t had the confidence to adopt any new technology despite the rapid shift to online working and trading.
- Vodafone and Enterprise Nation launch ‘business.connected’, a new campaign to support over 100,000 small businesses in adopting technology, boosting digital skills and staying safe online.
- Research finds a quarter of SME owners buying digital tools, but not activating them.
- 27% haven’t had the confidence to adopt any new technology despite the rapid shift to online working and trading.
United Kingdom: Vodafone and Enterprise Nation have committed to give free, expert training to 100,000 small businesses to support the UK’s economic recovery. Vodafone and Enterprise Nation will provide extensive online training to help business owners boost their digital skills, adopt and make the best possible use of new technology, and stay safe online. This is the first initiative of the new business.connected campaign.
The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a significant rise in the need for businesses to get online. With physical premises and offices closing, teams were forced to work remotely, and shoppers left with no choice but to buy online.
The Vodafone and Enterprise Nation initiative will support 100,000 small businesses in developing the knowledge, skills and confidence to use digital tools to get the best out of their business.
The training will focus on online essentials such as setting up a website, online trading, using collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, making the best decisions for your connectivity, and protecting yourself and customers from cyber-attacks. Different levels of training will be on offer to cater to those just starting their online journey, as well as those looking to build on existing experience.
Research conducted by market research firm Atomik Research and commissioned by Vodafone finds that Britain’s small business community is being held back by a lack of digital skills.
- 25% of SMEs are not activating tech/app solutions after purchasing;
- 34% of SMEs aren’t clear on which digital tools are right for their business needs;
- 27% of SMEs haven’t taken any steps to learn new technology;
- 41% of SMEs have not invested in digital tools;
- Only 35% of SMEs have basic cybersecurity protections in place.
Training will support four key areas for small businesses:
- Productivity and collaboration – using communication and planning tools amongst employees to provide the foundations for the future of smart working.
- Building a presence online – providing the know-how and skills to put your business in front of new audiences.
- Managing digital security – raising awareness of the risks that exist online, and how to ensure you and your customers stay safe.
- Optimising connectivity – helping owners to choose the right connectivity options for the new way you run your business.
The training, which will be accessed via the Vodafone V-Hub, will include live online workshops and webinars hosted by experts from the Vodafone and Enterprise Nation team, as well as one-to-one sessions with advisers, and independent training modules.
Andrew Stevens, Head of Small Business at Vodafone UK, said: “Whether we like it or not, the future of small business is to have an online presence, for teams and customers – but so many business owners just don’t have the experience to make that happen, let alone safely and in a way that gives a great customer experience. We are providing a complete support service, that helps businesses identify the right tools for them, activate them, and make the best use of them to improve their operation. We’re here to help Britain’s small business community, and I look forward to working with business owners and seeing the new opportunities they’re able to create for themselves as they venture online.”
Emma Jones, founder, Enterprise Nation, the UK’s fastest-growing small business support network, said: “Some small businesses have reacted quickly to increase their exposure to and investment in digital tools – even a rough estimate would suggest we’ve seen ten years of digital adoption in under 12 months. What needs to happen now is to help those firms left behind, and see others supported so they can build a deeper understanding to make the most of their technology and use it more effectively and efficiently.
“This initiative with Vodafone will help firms make the right decision and make sure every penny spent is being put to good use. We want to help the UK’s small businesses be better connected, work smarter and be more productive.”
Despite the persistent challenges posed to businesses during the pandemic, the UK witnessed a surge in entrepreneurship in 2020 with record numbers of new start-ups (772,002) being formed. The rise in remote working is expected to drive similar figures in 2021.
All business.connected courses will go live on Thursday 27 May. If you’re a SME business who is keen to adopt a robust digital strategy for your own organisation, visit the Vodafone UK website to register.
Notes to Editors
*Offer open to all UK small and medium-sized enterprises with 0 – 250 employees.
Data from Companies House showed 772,002 new businesses were registered last year, up 13.25% on 2019.
Atomik Research conducted an online survey of 1,002 adult SME senior decision makers in the UK. The research fieldwork took place 27 – 29 April 2021. Atomik Research is an independent market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides by MRS codes.
About Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation is the UK’s leading small business network and business support provider, delivering support to more than 50,000 small businesses every month. Its aim is to help people turn their good ideas into great businesses – through expert advice (including a comprehensive resources library), events, acceleration support and networking. In 2020 it launched two high profile business support initiatives: the Amazon Small Business Accelerator and the Recovery Advice for Business scheme which collectively aim to support thousands of small firms impacted by the pandemic.
Enterprise Nation’s small business active membership grew by 34% in 2020. It now has more than 120,000 members and subscribers, 10% of which are professional advisers from a range of sectors offering strategic support to small firms. The adviser platform sees hundreds of connections every week with small firms reaching out for advice.
Enterprise Nation was founded in 2005 by British entrepreneur Emma Jones CBE, also co-founder of national enterprise campaign StartUp Britain. She is an author of best-selling business books including Spare Room Startup, Working 5 to 9, Go Global, Start a Business for £99 and the StartUp Kit, Going for Growth. She is a frequently called-on and regular media commentator on a range of issues which affect the UK’s growing number of SMEs. In 2018 FTSE 100 entrepreneur and HomeServe founder Richard Harpin invested in Enterprise Nation with the aim of creating a ‘more entrepreneurial Britain’.