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Are you lacking digital skills?

2014 saw the 25th anniversary Tim Berners Lee’s World Wide Web, and with 2.4 billion users across the globe, it is still growing every day.

The 2015 UK Digital Index released this week by Lloyds Bank shows that now 77% of small and medium sized enterprises have basic digital skills[1] partly due to increasing accessibility; getting online is easier now that ever.

Technological advances have made it much easier to get an affordably, high quality tablet or smartphone on the high street, which will allow you to connect your database of business files to the internet, using cloud based technologies. You have access to Skype, to conduct business meetings remotely, and you can connect with your target market and monitor trends through social media platforms.

The Business Digital Index describes the future of these schemes, “Go ON UK will extend its network to a wider group of partners from all sectors, coordinating a nationwide effort to reduce digital exclusion.

Government will support this role and, together with public, private and VCSE (Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise) partners, will sign up to the UK’s Digital Inclusion Charter and actively support each local programme.”[2]

There is a focus on the community, and on establishing networks of start-ups and small business locally that will benefit individuals, highlighting area for improvement in digital capability and putting into place steps to achieve goals in getting your business online. “Saving time is a key benefit to organisations who adopt digital, but those who are less digital are missing out through reluctance to appreciate the benefit or invest the time to gain the longer term efficiencies.”[3]

Once you have developed core skills in becoming digitally literate, your opportunities expand and you will be able to negotiate the World Wide Web to save you time and allow you to focus on other parts of the business.

However, with all the successes of the last 25 years, there are still more than 1 million people who lack the skills and confidence to get their business online. The success of regional schemes such as Go ON UK, a partnership organisation that offers advice, online forums, community groups and events has inspired a new push for digital inclusion nationally in business. The resources on the website cater for every size of team, allowing you to pinpoint the tools and informations most useful to you and your business. This network of support exists to highlight the benefits of being online.

Other schemes include BT’s Get IT Together campaign, which works with those who have not had access to the internet. Their advice is tailored to individual needs, with informations and skills training through Citizen’s Advice to give all many people as possible new opportunities to use the internet. The guide to getting online can be downloaded and printed off, allowing you to take in the internet at your own speed. The programme also offers support in online safety to make sure you protect your personal details.

Government run schemes such as The Business Exchange offer a platform for linking startups and large corporations. “By making it easier for the small business community to understand and take advantage of the range of pledges on offer from big businesses, this site will open up a whole new world of opportunity to british entrepreneurs.”[4]  These pledges can include financial support and investment or guidance and assistance in how to grow your business.

The internet is a tool for you to use to your advantage in which ever ways is most suited to your business. These schemes allow you to see the potential for building your business online and give you the motivation to look into the future of the possibilities for growth. Even if you only choose to host your business profile online so that customers and find you easily and contact you hassle-free, it will have a huge impact on your business. This wealth of knowledge at your fingertips means that you can see what everyone else is doing, monitoring the market to adapt your own products and services to stay on top. Connecting with community business networks can offer advice and services of local people that will save you time and money later on.

The internet will continue to grow. New developments in conducting business online are opening up opportunities and new platforms for trade are emerging. It is an exciting time to be in business and as much as you need the internet, it also needs you. Without new, interesting ideas the world of online