Small Business Using Internet as Road to Economic Recovery
The Internet is providing a lifeline to small businesses, with 79 per cent of those questioned saying that it is making the road to recovery easier this time round than in previous recessions according to a new report released by internet service provider, Easynet Connect.
The Internet has clearly become an integral part of most strategies, with 81 per cent estimating that they could not cope any longer than a day without it, and of that group 48 per cent unable to last longer than an hour, 29 per cent no longer than 30 minutes, and 14 per cent unable to cope at all without the Internet.
Small Business and Computing Systems
Despite the recession, small companies are also looking to invest in computing systems – providing opportunities for small business software manufacturers. Over a third of those asked in the survey (38 per cent) are investing in their IT infrastructure, while 30 per cent are looking at increasing staff training, and around 15 per cent are looking at recruiting more people and improving staff retention.
This investment in small business software is considerably greater than other areas of investment by small businesses. For example, lower down the list of priorities is launching new products and entering new markets (21 per cent) and increasing marketing spend (14 per cent). All of these measures suggest that businesses are concentrating on improving in-house processes, ensuring they are as efficient and productive as possible when growth returns.
In a press statement accompanying the survey, Chris Stening, managing director of Easynet Connect, said: “The predominant sentiment among small to medium-sized firms seems to be one of ‘cautious optimism’. Earlier this year we found that 2010 would be the year SMEs embraced cloud computing.
Small Business Looks to Cloud Computing
“With most small-to-medium businesses not expecting growth this year, we can see that this spend on cloud computing, as with investment in other aspects of IT, training, and recruitment is all part of the strategy to future-proof their business in preparation for growth and beyond,” he added. “In contrast to previous downturns, the Internet increasingly lies at the core of small businesses’ operations – from marketing their products, conducting research, collaborating with colleagues or providing access to significantly better value cloud computing software and services.”
Scaling up is also very important, believes Stening. “Small businesses need to ensure their Internet capabilities – essentially the very heart of their business – can scale with them,” he said. “For many, fibre connections, with their ability to scale far beyond their current 100 Mbps speeds in the future, are proving to be the cost-effective solution to this problem.”
Research from the UK’s Federation of Small Businesses released as part of its Voice of Small Business survey found that 24 per cent of respondents were dissatisfied with their broadband service. Of those small firms that are dissatisfied, 63 per cent said they are unhappy with the speed and reliability of their internet connection supplied by their service provider.
When recession bites, it’s always tempting to cut investment along with other expenditure but this research suggests that SMEs are looking to the long term by making investments now in time for when the economy improves.