SMEs prioritise work/life balance ahead of growth

Dump that stereotype, today's breed of entrepreneur is not interested in fancy sports cars. Research released by TalkTalk Business has revealed that 81 per cent of business owners are driven by achieving a good work/life balance and working in an industry that they are passionate about, and are happy to forgo big bucks and a jet-set lifestyle.

When asked what small business owners thought they needed to do to catch their bigger rivals, almost a quarter cited access to technology and telecoms, ahead of developing marketing strategies or  pursuing new business leads; according to the poll of more than 500 small businesses.

Access to the latest tech, funding and size and skill of staff were believed to be equally important by business owners when taking on the competition.

The research also revealed that approximately 30 per cent of the annual turnover of a typical small business with a website can be attributed to online sales and enquiries. However while the web provides an opportunity for sales for many successful small companies,  2012 figures from  charity Go ON UK revealed that just one-third of SMEs have a digital presence and only 14 per cent of those sell products and services online*.

One in five small business owners would be prepared to review their telecoms and technology if an industry leader suggested it was the key to realising savings and business success. For detailed advice more than 40 per cent would turn to a trusted supplier with an understanding of their business.  In contrast, less than a quarter (24 per cent) would rely on a fellow entrepreneur, demonstrating the importance small business owners place on specialist knowledge.

The research has inspired TalkTalk Business to commission a more detailed study into the key factors that encourage or limit business growth in the UK. The Geared for Growth report, which is due to be published in April this year, aims to identify the motivators for SME business owners and how the UK can best ensure it produces leading business success stories.

Charles Bligh at TalkTalk Business said: "The research clearly shows that having the right technology and telecoms in place is the key to running an efficient and successful business. . .  However, while two-fifths of UK business owners feel that their current set-ups are preventing their business from reaching its true potential, the willingness among SMEs to take advice on IT and address the skills gap is reassuring.  This underlines the importance of the role that providers, such as TalkTalk Business, have in helping organisations determine what is best for their business, whether they are a household name or an ambitious start up.

"Of course, we understand that the current economic climate means it's a challenging time for SMEs, but by providing great value for money solutions we are better able to ensure the latest telecoms technology is available to as many businesses as possible."

TalkTalk Business has been able to disrupt the IT market in the UK to bring greater value to SMEs by utilising the size and reach of its Next Generation Network. Playing a major role in reducing the level of investment required by businesses, the average cost of an internet connection has fallen from £40 a month to just £10 since the launch of the company's broadband.

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