Almost three quarters of small businesses have increased their online presence due to the pandemic and this is starting to pay off now as trust grows.
74 percent of UK small businesses increased their use of social media for advertising purposes during the pandemic, with 43 percent increasing their use of e-commerce and 30 percent increasing their use of paid social media advertising.
Research by Small Business Britain and BT Skills for Tomorrow shows that almost half (45%) of small business owners think using digital tools has been one of the biggest changes they have made.
The study, which surveyed over 1000 companies in the UK small business community, found that work ethics remain high, despite more than half of companies (53%) seeing a drop in income as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic: 60 percent of small businesses are either very or fairly confident about the future, and over half of them (55%) think the changes they have made to their business have been positive; digital skills pave the way to recovery.
Michelle Ovens CBE, Founder of Small Business Britain said: “Small businesses across the UK have responded amazingly well to such testing conditions over the past 18 months and this research shows how adaptable they can be, especially when it comes to all things digital.
“Our data shows that business owners feel they could use more support in this area. Hence, we must do everything in our power to help them improve their digital skills and ensure they get a well-deserved boost on the path to recovery. “
The pandemic outbreak and subsequent lockdowns have seen companies fundamentally change the way they work, and 45 percent of small business owners say their use of digital skills and tools is among their greatest. 37 percent also named video conferencing and e-commerce as one of their most important changes.
All of this relies not only on digital skills, but also on a reliable internet connection; a whopping 65 percent of small businesses say their need for reliable broadband has increased over the past year.
An increased need for digital tools brings with it a need for support in this area. Of the companies surveyed, 55 percent said the area they need help most in is digital marketing, and 42 percent said that digital skills, in general, are where they need help the most.
Chris Sims, BT’s Managing Director for SoHo (Single / Small Office, Home Office) said, “Because nearly two-thirds of small businesses saw an increased need for reliable broadband over the past year, and over 70% saw their social networks Having increased media usage for promotional purposes, it is clear that small businesses are increasingly relying on digital tools to grow their business.
“At BT, we are committed to helping small businesses build their connectivity and confidence. With 42 percent wanting more support with digital skills, we are offering free workshops and mentoring as part of our BT Skills for Tomorrow program to provide small business owners with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the digital world. “