As stated in a previous CUC Online blog, SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) are the backbone of UK economy and employ up to 60% of the national workforce. In 2015, the Enterprise Research Centre reported SMEs are growing at their fastest rate since the economic crisis in 2008 as private sector firms added over 600,000 (net) new jobs across the UK in 2014. Are the traditional barriers of starting a new business weakening? Not entirely according to the 2015 Growth Dashboard, which states nearly 50% of businesses in certain areas describe the ability to recruit skilled staff as a barrier, while other cities have issues with sales and marketing or strategy management. One barrier to starting a business that has weakened, however, are startup costs. With open source and free, user-friendly software pervading the market, technology has opened up the road for new businesses who want to make their mark; the below are a few examples.
The first is an obvious one. Platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo are crowdfunding hubs for new ideas, inventions, businesses and initiatives. These crowdfunding platforms are not only a vehicle for public funding but also an ideal place to lay out a project plan. Kickstarter has helped around 104,476 projects reach their funding goals and has helped launch the Pebble smartwatch, OUYA Android gaming system and multiple independent media productions such as animations, short films and games.
Cost effective chip and pin devices
For too long it was the mark of small retail-based businesses to only accept cash payments. With modern mobile card readers like the ones provided by Paypal and iZettle, small businesses can manage their day-to-day cash flow easily and economically. According to the UK Cards Association, the cost of a traditional chip and pin card machine set up is based on a monthly service charge (MSC), which is negotiated by the provider and the business, and a joining fee. Other charges can include a flat rate charge for debit card payments and monthly rental charge for card machines. Taking into account all the above charges, setting up a simple payment system could be a large and persistent blow to SMEs.
A new breed of SME-friendly card machine brings the advantages of no setup or joining fees and a one time fee for a card machine terminal (around £60 on average). The only consistent fee businesses pay is a percentage on their monthly card sales which, in some cases, decreases as the business makes more sales per month. Working in tandem with a smartphone or tablet these modern card machine solutions help take the pressure off small business owners, allowing them to focus on growing their business.
Social media advertising
Granting SMEs the advertising potential of reaching thousands of people for relatively low amounts of money, social media advertising is a consistently helpful partner. Using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Google+ and other social media platforms not only allows a business to reach multiple demographics but also helps construct a solid brand and boost recognition across different platforms. With the addition of some good demographic research, social advertising tools can also be used to target certain ages, occupations, geographical areas so businesses can get their message to the right people. Essentially, this modern advertising style saves business owners from the advertising costs of traditional physical marketing, multimedia advertising (such as TV or radio) or hiring and advertising agency.
Project management systems
Even if a business is small and is operating with only a few employees, things like workflows, project progress and evaluation can still get lost in communication. Having a central hub that all members of the business can utilise to see the progress of each aspect of the project allows businesses to operate more efficiently. Project management systems (such as Basecamp) give small businesses the opportunity to work collaboratively, maximising the bandwidth of each individual member of the team. Applications include making a to-do list, message boards, assigning tasks and uploading documents.
Technology increases accessibility, ease, and cost-efficiency in a variety of areas. Whether thinking about setting up your own business or boosting your career prospects, a bachelor’s degree in Management and Leadership or Management and Professional Accounting is a great way to achieve. With our online courses, you won’t have to leave work or abandon other commitments to study. To find out more and speak to a Recruitment Advisor, fill out our enquiry form or contact us directly via Whatsapp: +44 7493 511472.