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New partnership will help business owners gain the skills, confidence and knowledge they need to use tech tools to grow their businesses

New research from @Dropbox and Enterprise Nation (@E_Nation) reveals that thousands of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) could save £8.1bn a year in saved time – 150 hours each year that could be used to grow their businesses – by adopting new tech tools to digitise manual processes.

Whilst the majority of UK business leaders (77%) could not survive without tech tools, only 30% of female-led businesses keep up with tech trends compared to 54% of male-led businesses.

The report found that far too many are failing to take advantage of all of the available options, according to the research, the barriers to adopting tech tools are varied, with lack of expert advice and information, and high costs seen as key challenges small and medium businesses face in the UK.

Around a quarter of respondents claimed they did not use cloud computing and the same proportion did not use video conferencing, both seen as critical to business continuity, and over half of respondents had yet to adopt secure document signing and e-signatures.

Moreover, project management tools were regarded as very important to keeping business going over the last 18 months, yet almost a quarter (22%) reported that their business does not currently use these tools. 

Access to information is a crucial step in enabling businesses of all sizes to tap into the full range of tools available to them. Only 34% of businesses with 1-10 employees are very active at keeping up with tech trends, compared to 66% of businesses with 50-250 employees. As there were 5.7 million businesses that fall in the under-10 category in the UK in 2020, accounting for 96% of all UK businesses, this presents an enormous untapped potential for the economy. 

Government programmes such as Help to Grow: Digital provide small businesses with impartial support about how tech tools can help boost their business potential.

The government is set to make great strides with this flagship programme and we think there is an opportunity to expand its success. To help thousand more businesses across the UK to improve their digital performance, widening the eligibility criteria of government initiatives will benefit firms by improving their productivity and resilience.

“We need to break the “can’t adopt, won’t adopt” cycle. UK small businesses have been held back by lack of information about products and services, entry-level deals and free tier products, as well as new tools and services that can help them push their business to the next level. As time-poor small business owners, we cannot expect them to navigate this complex landscape without guidance, which is why we partnered with Enterprise Nation to research this issue and present a set of recommendations, for industry, the government, and business owners themselves,” said Andy Wilson, Director, Dropbox UK. 

Emma Jones CBE, CEO and Founder of Enterprise Nation said:

“Small business owners have done an amazing job in the past 18 months to adopt digital tools and it is our job to continue to support founders with the information and resource they need to make decisions on key technologies. This research shows there are some barriers to tech adoption amongst the small business community and this will inform our work and engagement with government as we see the rollout of the Help to Grow: Digital programme. We see at first hand the benefits that small businesses gain by being digitally savvy and we look forward to working with Dropbox and others in the tech industry—as well as government—to ensure that the issues presented in the report are addressed.”

For social and marketing agency 1000heads, having advice about their implementation of tech tools during the pandemic allowed them to take their collaboration efforts one step further, and interact with colleagues and clients much quicker, increasing operational efficiencies. 

“Using collaboration tools like Dropbox, we’ve been able to streamline processes and enable people to work securely in one single environment, and we even had some financial gain from being able to cancel alternative services,” said Nick Smith, IT & Digital Operations Director at social and marketing agency 1000heads.

He added: “As we focus on a “new normal”, where the vast majority of businesses have a flexible working environment, being agile and able to work regardless of the location can really determine the success of a business.” 

Dropbox and Enterprise Nation have partnered to provide small business owners with free events, webinars and e-learning videos on the topics of productivity, collaboration, tech tools for business and more.

This partnership will help business owners gain the skills, confidence and knowledge they need to use tech tools to grow their businesses. The first webinar will take place on 22nd November, everyone interested in attending can register their interest here

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