Giving SMBs back just two hours each week – through, for instance, better use of technology – could boost the UK economy by almost £9 billion
Small business owners want to be more productive but severely lack the awareness of how technology can help them do so, a new study has found.
In a survey of 1057 businesses with one or two employees, commissioned by 123-reg and undertaken by YouGov, 64% of respondents had set up their website more than three years ago, acknowledging the benefits it can bring.
However, these businesses fall down when it comes to linking their day-to-day processes and their online presence, showing a failure to use technology to help save them time.
Nearly two thirds (63%) of respondents said they would like to increase their company’s productivity, but only a third (33%) of these had a plan in place to do so.
While 82% of the businesses were using Microsoft Office products, many were unaware of how they can help save time and boost productivity.
And a majority of the respondents were not capitilising on the latest technology available to them, with 65% of those using Microsoft Office on an older version of the software.
“The survey demonstrates that whilst small businesses are hungry for growth, they don’t always fully understand how technology can assist in their ambitions,” said Glenn Woolaghan, small business director at Microsoft UK. “With functions such as regular updates, additional OneDrive cloud storage and ongoing support, small business owners will be able to bridge the technology gap to gain productivity benefits.”
Beyond a lack of awareness to technology, businesses listed several additional barriers to increasing productivity, including spending too much time on admin (28%), managing communications with customers (17%), traveling to meetings (11%), managing complex IT issues (85%) and tax/National Insurance (9%).
Family commitments and a lack of time made up the vast majority of additional reasons given. To this end, almost a fifth (17%) of business owners reported that growth has been affected negatively by a lack of time, and 31% said they could make more money if they were more productive.
“UK micro and small business owners are huge multi-taskers – managing all of the company’s tasks from completing the work, generating new sales and managing accounts and pay roll,” said Nick Leech, digital director at 123-reg. “UK SMBs have already demonstrated they’re digitally savvy by embracing websites and social media in their millions.
“Now, they need to think about how they can save time by embracing technology further so they can focus on the tasks that add the most value to their bottom line.”
Based on recent UK government business estimates, giving five hours per week back to SMBs could generate an additional £23 billion of revenue.
In the past two years, almost half (46%) of UK businesses have grown, but this figure shows that there’s significant room for additional expansion.
“Technology can be seen as a challenge, but the new tools on the market are easy to use for those without a technical background,” said Leech. “Any business owner can set them up and start managing their business and home lives more efficiently.
“By embracing additional tools, they will be able to reduce time spent on unproductive admin tasks and focus on the activities that really drive business growth, such as producing excellent work or networking for new leads.”