Bulletin

Stay informed with our handy news bulletins, which include special announcements regarding the Breakthrough programme's Masterclasses, trade missions and Breakthrough Live events. 

SMEs should look online for export prospects

October 2014
A recent YouGov survey has revealed that only 13% of UK retail companies traded overseas in 2013 despite the massive growth potential offered by international trade. The results of the survey prompted SME advice hub Ingenious Britain to encourage small businesses to look at the online export market in order to take advantage of the growth opportunities on offer.
 
With SMEs keen to embrace new technologies – and many already taking advantage of the internet for Cloud, remote assistance and flexible working – it would seem a logical step to use online resources to explore international growth potential. Online trading is a cost effective way to target new markets, with minimal changes required to existing systems. 
 
A second survey by The Royal Mail highlights the fact that English-speaking countries offer the most potential for SMEs. A simple initiative such as setting up a website that uses the domain address of the target country could pave the way for international trade.  
 

Business Trust in the Cloud at All-Time Low

October 2014
Trust in the security of data held in the cloud is a rapidly growing concern for IT decision-makers within large organizations, according to a new report by BT. Three quarters (79%) of decision-makers surveyed said security is their main concern regarding cloud-based services, while almost half (49%) said they are ‘very or extremely anxious’ about the security implications of these services. The latter marks a 10% increase from previous research carried out in 2012.
 
The report – which surveyed 640 IT decision-makers in medium to large organizations across 11 countries and a range of sectors – reveals that adoption of cloud services has increased despite concerns over their security. Seventy per cent of respondents are adopting cloud storage and web applications within their business, while 50% say they have adopted consumer rather than enterprise cloud services, which they believe serve their purposes just as well. “It is an interesting paradox,” says President of BT Security Mark Hughes. “On the one hand, decision-makers are concerned about the security implications of using public cloud services but, on the other, their buying decisions seem to be driven by short-term cost perceptions.” He adds, “Every organization has a different appetite for risk and these need to be factored into the buying decision equation.”
 

UKTI and EEF Partnership to Boost Overseas Trade

October 2014
UK manufacturers can expect greater support when engaging in overseas trade thanks to a new partnership deal signed by British manufacturer’s lobby group EEF and government body UK Trade & Investment (UKTI). Signed by EEF CEO Terry Scuoler and UKTI CEO Dominic Jermey, the agreement will see both organizations working closer together to create more partnerships with manufacturers and increase the number of overseas trade missions, as well as increase awareness of UKTI’s support initiatives.
 
“Improving our export performance is key to helping Britain achieve the better-balanced economy needed to deliver long-term stability and growth,” says EEF’s Terry Scuoler. UKTI’s Dominic Jermey agrees. “The scale of ambition to achieve our £1 trillion export target by 2020 will require a full team effort with government and business working together. This partnership will be a very positive step forward towards this goal.”
 

The will to succeed is in entrepreneurs' DNA

September 2014
Just under half (47%) of UK respondents in a new study were optimistic for the year ahead, while 46% reported growth in their order books.
 
While life remains challenging, the sixth annual international Hiscox DNA of an Entrepreneur Report shows a greater confidence for the future.
 
The study is based on responses from 3,500 small business owners in the US, UK and parts of Europe – including 1,000 from the UK alone. 
UK firms are also most likely of all those polled to have had a request for funding agreed by a bank or other lender in the past five years, and are least likely (22%) to say that lack of Government support is a concern – good news for policy-makers.
 
However, this year also saw a big increase in the number of respondents citing cyber-crime as one of their biggest fears, with the UK most likely to be concerned about it (17%).
 
Overall, small business owners estimated they worked a shorter week this year, with British (38.7) respondents reporting the shortest hours worked. One in three (36%) of British respondents also want to work less. But what counts as work can be subjective. In the UK, 45% of those polled say eating lunch at their desk counts as work, while 71% include responding to emails and voicemails after work. UK respondents are also taking less annual leave – 20.3 days, down from 21.4 in 2013.
 
Bronek Masojada, CEO at Hiscox, said: 
 
“The findings indicate that the grit and determination small business owners have shown in previous years' studies is paying off. This is immensely encouraging, not only for small business owners, but for anyone with an interest in the small business sector – from policy-makers to academics.”
 
The report clearly reveals that while there is still work to do, one thing none of the small businesses lack is their determination to succeed. It's in their DNA.

 

Tech start-ups aim to provide storage for Londoners

September 2014
It costs a huge amount of money to rent office space in London and many SMEs simply can’t afford the luxury of generous storage space – they must either sacrifice location or square footage in order to afford high leases. 
 
However, a few enterprising technology start-ups could offer the ideal storage solution for fellow SMEs. This new breed of storage service providers aims to make the process easier by offering services such as online set-up, and collection and delivery options.
 
SpaceWays (backed by the German start-up incubator Rocket Internet), opened a 57,000 sq ft storage warehouse this month. SpaceWays provides boxes and bubble wrap to customers, but they also offer door-to-door collection and delivery within London.
 
Rob Rebholz, managing director says, “People often don’t take into consideration the transportation to the self-storage facility. You rent a van or hire a cab, which makes it expensive and time consuming.” 
 
Other companies hoping to gain a slice of the self-store market include LoveSpace (which re-launched in November and has raised £2.5 million in funding) and Boxman.
 
Rather than having to rent a unit or secured locker, these newer companies offer alternative solutions. It’s more usual to charge per box instead of for a fixed space, such as a shipping container or secured locker.
 
Steve Folwell, managing director of LoveSpace, says, “Rather than starting with a £50 to £60 [per month] minimum for a small cupboard, you can start from £4.95 for a box with us.”
 
 

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