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Research by Plusnet shows businesses are increasingly optimistic about emerging from COVID-19 - while utilising social media and new technology will be crucial to future success.

In a new poll, 84% of respondents said they felt “optimistic” about growing their business over the next 12 months. 

The survey - carried out by value communications-provider Plusnet - also revealed that 52% of SME decision makers rely on tech more than they did before the pandemic. This increased to 67% among medium sized companies.

Yet despite the importance on tech, nearly half of small firms - 43% - said they have needed help to overcome problems with their internet and broadband.

Businesses also reported that lockdown had led to them increasingly turning to social media as the primary way to connect with customers. 

Forty-three per cent of those running SMEs said Facebook was now their go-to platform. This was followed by Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. 

Just 6% of entrepreneurs said they relied on more traditional forms of marketing such as billboards and posters. 

With digital clearly underpinning the future plans of lockdown business leaders, Plusnet has released a new guide offering businesses tips on how to best grow your business via social media. 

The free-to-download guide covers everything from the basics of using social media, to avoiding burnout at work and hacks to get your business through that often tricky second year of trading.

Plusnet is also launching a new national campaign, which will reward the lockdown heroes who became part of the record number of businesses set up during the pandemic.

The Yorkshire-based firm is vowing to honour the grit and determination shown by those to carry out the best service for their communities and the economy during the toughest year in generations.

Nick Silverwood, Head of Business at Plusnet, said: “We’re taking our hat off to the incredible businesses launched over the last year, who have been able to adapt to using technology more than ever before.

“Being from Yorkshire, we know all about courage, grit and determination and that’s why we’re recognising the many thousands of businesses that took the plunge in lockdown by rewarding them with a unique That’ll Do Star.

“And because we want to help businesses as much as we can over the coming months and years, we have created a guide with tips on how to keep your business on track, specifically designed for our lockdown heroes. We’d love for businesses to apply so we can shine a light on the incredible work they have been doing and help them beat their goals for year two and beyond.”

Plusnet’s survey, which was carried out by Opinium, also revealed nearly a third of businesses have moved the majority of their trade online due to the pandemic.

And after more than a year in lockdown, rising numbers of SMEs said they plan to continue trading that way permanently.

This switch to online-trading is matched by a sense of optimism among entrepreneurs, according to the poll. 

This positivity is despite 49% admitting that at some points over the past year they feared the pandemic might lead to their business closing. 

Because of the shift to tech, and more businesses going mobile, one in 10 SMEs said having reliable broadband and tech support was more important than having a good logo – or even selling their business for a profit (5%). Furthermore, two out of five (40%) said they value reliability most out of their business broadband – with the smallest businesses appreciating it the most.

Social media marketing was also considered the number one thing small business leaders wished they had known more about when they started (23%), which is why Plusnet’s new business guide will share tips on how to embrace social and use it to your businesses advantage.

Key Takeaways

  • Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, SME decision makers are optimistic about growing their businesses over the next year.
  • Over half of those surveyed said they rely on tech now more than they did before the pandemic
  • Over lockdown, businesses reported using social media to stay connected with their customers.
  • Plusnet’s free business guide shares practical tips on using digital across your business.

Want to digitally transform your business? Book your free UMi Digital Health Check today and take your business further with the adoption of digital technologies. 

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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