Small Business News | Cash-strapped entrepreneurs get creative

Small Business News | Cash-strapped entrepreneurs get creative

A recent BBC article discusses the problem of finance for cash-strapped entrepreneurs looking at a new generation of online funding platforms.

In order to get new ventures off the ground these online platforms, such as Kickstarter, cater for everyone from starving artists to tech start-ups. They also allow anyone with a business proposition to post an online pitch which goes straight into the offices and homes of potential investors and donors across the world. Although there is no limit on how much people can raise, creators of the projects must take a Dragons Den style approach and set a cash goal and a time limit. If they reach the goal within the time limit they get to keep the pledges. If they don’t, all pledges are returned. Alongside the ability to gain funding, young entrepreneurs receive feedback on their products and plans and well as having the added bonus of a readymade group of potential customers. So far 650 projects have been successful and pledges have come from 70,000 people globally.

To read more about this scheme please visit the BBC website.


Small Business Opinion: Reflecting on 25 years of technology

As discussed in Phil Smith’s post last week,  Connected Conversations has revealed just how much of a strategic tool IT has become in the small businesses workplace, as we head into the next quarter century.

When we undertook the project, we wanted to get real insight into the ways in which UK businesses and public services have been changed by technology over the past two and a half decades. The thing that we found most interesting, however, was that key themes to come out of the discussion didn’t break down by industry or sector; in fact they very much remained consistent across the five conversations.  Identifying the lessons that can be learnt for technology in the future is vital to all businesses growth whether it’s a large enterprise, an established and growing business or young start up. So, we thought we’d share them with you too.

IT has come closer to the user – difficult as it can be to imagine now, there was obviously a time before technology was as ubiquitous and ingrained into business practices as it is today; a time when IT was often considered a part of the Finance function, providing programming and background support to solely inward facing parts of the business. The commoditisation of hardware and software has meant technology has gone through a rapid evolution, bringing it to the forefront of business consciousness. The stratospheric rise of the internet in recent years has taken this evolution to its next stage, fundamentally changing the way in which businesses expect to operate and communicate.

For many businesses, the increased consumer and customer awareness of what technology can do has been a significant equaliser when it comes to deciding how business models and processes will work. Rather than pushing from enterprise back-offices to consumers, innovation pace and technology adoption are in many cases now being dictated by consumers themselves. Smart businesses will be those that adapt their ways of thinking and working accordingly.

It’s the service, not the speed – Getting internet access is no longer enough.  The issue now is how much faster broadband can and will become. For many businesses, the speed of internet access they currently have tends to be enough for the majority of applications. That isn’t to say there’s no room for improvement, but it does open up some space to discuss how effectively organisations are using their current internet capabilities. With fast enough broadband speeds, any content can be delivered to any device – whether that be movies and music, or applications and data.  However, the success of any networked or remote service is not simply about ever faster speeds.  The way people interact with information changes depending on their point of access and successful businesses will acknowledge this, questioning the content and the service as much as the delivery mechanism.

Data is going public – with so many channels through which to create and share information, the amount of data created on a daily basis is growing exponentially. As a result, the British public and the organisations with which it interacts have, in many ways, changed their attitudes to data protection, management and ownership. Over the next 25 years the ability to use that data to provide improved and more efficient services will be pivotal in the UK’s ability to compete as leading a knowledge economy. For businesses, the challenge will be to identify what, among the masses of information available, is relevant to its stakeholders and how that knowledge can be best used to improve processes and outcomes.

Does this match up to your businesses experience of technology within your work place? The Connected Conversations project was created to get to the heart of the various issues different organisations face; straight from the horses mouth. As such, it would be great to get your thoughts too.