Over the past six months UK small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have grown on average by six per cent despite the broader UK economy struggling, according to the latest SMB Index from HP.
HP’s survey of 1,000 SMBs, with between 1 and 50 employees, shows that compared to that of the previous six months, growth for UK SMBs has slowed slightly but optimism is still strong, with SMBs expecting to grow by up to 13 per cent over the next year.
Optimism in the economy is also strong, with 66 per cent of SMBs optimistic about the year ahead. SMBs in Financial Services have grown the most (13 per cent), followed by Manufacturing (10 per cent).
SMBs in Retail (4 per cent) and Professional Services (1 per cent) have seen the least growth.[ Also Read: SAP Business One App Available for iPhone ] [ Also Read: Small Businesses Fearing a Second Recession ]
Nearly half of UK SMBs (48 per cent) are turning to social media to help grow their business and reach new audiences, with 56 per cent of sole traders recognising its value the most.
Although SMBs are finding social media beneficial for networking purposes (83 per cent), and as a mechanism for advertising (57 per cent), many SMBs are underestimating its true potential for business growth and lead generation.[ Also Read: Are Small Businesses Cybercrime Targets? ] [ Also Read: Midsize Outfits Increasing Tech Budgets: IBM ]
Only 34 per cent of SMBs are using online business forums to share insights or as a tool to seek advice. Having identified ‘expert advice’ (65 per cent) as the number one influence on their own purchasing decisions, along with peer recommendations (42 per cent), it is surprising that very few SMBs recognise the importance of adding value to their own customers or prospective customers via online communities, which could positively effect lead generation and growth, informs the survey.[ Also Read: Software to Help Small Businesses Get Paid ] [ Also Read: Media Hub to Help Small Businesses ]
When asked how they are changing their relationship with technology, only 18 per cent of SMBs said that they were contemplating using tablet devices for business use. The main reason for not considering them was related to cost (55 per cent), as opposed to the lack of security features (6 per cent) which was the least considered factor in preventing the take-up of tablet devices in the workplace.[ Announcement: Thought Leaders Invited to Write for RMN News Site ]
“Whether it is social media, collaborative working capabilities or the need for heightened processing power, we’re constantly seeing how technology can transform the way businesses operate,” explains Gavin Parrish, UK & Ireland commercial category manager at HP. “We want to help SMBs make the right decisions for the business and support them during the tough economic times.”
The research was conducted by Vanson Bourne between December 2010 and January 2011. The 1,000 decision-makers were divided into four categories: sole traders; 2-10 employees; 10-25 employees; and 26-50 employees. The survey findings were released today, April 18.
Photo courtesy: HP