The importance of reliable broadband for SMEs
A lack of a reliable internet connection would have a negative impact on more than half of online SMEs, according to new research.
The report from Citizens Advice found that many small businesses find it difficult to engage with their customers if a poor connection is prevalent, completely preventing trade in some cases.
When compared to other services such as energy, post and water, a greater proportion of small businesses said they had experienced issues relating to the internet.
Some 30% of firms said problems had blighted their business and were concerned about the potential negative impact that it may have on their business.
A similar figure said problems had occurred in the past 12 months, while 46% of firms said they had concerns over their electricity usage relating to network use.
Costs were found to be difficult to alter as well, with two thirds of businesses saying they struggled when attempting to switch supplier.
Holding up the show
Approximately one quarter of respondents said they had complained to their internet service provider as an intermittent service or no connection can prevent work being carried out.
That was cited by 92% of those who complained, and in the worst cases could result in financial losses for the businesses involved.
This is especially the case for businesses that operate solely online, as continual losses could mean the business is no longer viable to run.
In these cases, advice should be sought from insolvency practitioners and action taken accordingly to try to resolve the situation.
The internet can be used for marketing and advertising purposes, for online sales and for customer interaction.
All of these aspects are vital to business success and longevity, so a reliable service is an essential part of the process.
The main uses of the internet for small businesses were found to be email services, used by 83% of SMEs, ordering services for stock (71%) payment management (also 71%) and to compare prices for suppliers, done in 67% of cases.
By Phil Smith