engage magazine issue 004 \'07 - Page 13

NEWS FOCUS 13 News Confidence in Small businesses SMEs highest since offered free web 2004 - survey presence Business confidence among small to medium-sized businesses is at its highest level since 2004, according to a survey by accounting firm KPMG. The survey of companies with a turnover of between £5m and £500m per year found that 64% of those polled predicted a positive outlook for small and medium-sized firms over the next 12 months. This is the highest level since 2004 and marks an increase of 14 % on the previous survey, KPMG said. For their business, 76% of those polled said they were confident about the firm’s prospects in the coming twelve months, the highest figure since the survey began in 2003. Small companies can now take advantage of a free web domain name and website. This follows the news that one in 10 small businesses still do not have an online presence. The trial period for Microsoft Office Live, a set of internet-based tools tailored for small businesses, has now finished and firms currently lacking a web presence can sign up for free. Offered by Microsoft Office Live, small businesses can create a website, use company branded email accounts and manage their customer databases and calendars all through one online account. The basic package also includes tools to monitor web traffic and purchase keywords in line with advertising budgets. More than 30,000 small businesses in the UK tested the software during its beta programme and alterations have been made according to feedback received. The software now includes additional web templates and the ability to modify and import HTML to create more sophisticated sites. For further information type OfficeLive.Microsoft.com/UK into your internet browser. Start-ups offered free IT advice Start-up businesses can now use an online tool to let them know what kind of IT system their businesses requires. Businesslink’s ‘Setting up an IT system’, an interactive tool, offers advice for small firms and start-ups on what the most appropriate equipment for their organisation would be. A short questionnaire is used to identify the main use for IT within the business. An assessment is made on how simple or sophisticated a system is required once business owners enter details on which members of staff need to use the system. The guide offers managers advice on what specifications they need to run their business effectively, but does not recommend any specific brands or equipment models. The tool can be found at www.businesslink. gov.uk/itbasics Websites ‘do not reflect SMEs’ brand’ More than 60% of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK do not believe their websites offer a true reflection of their brand, according to recent research. A survey carried out by Mediasurface at the Internet World event revealed that 61% of smaller firms weren’t entirely happy with their web content, while 52% of employees were unaware how their sites were updated. The findings also showed that one in 10 small firms do not have a web presence, while only 37% update their site weekly and 11% on a monthly basis. Additionally, 41 per cent revealed they were in unaware about Web 2.0 despite wide-ranging publicity and only 37% of those that were aware thought it would make an impact on their business. ISSUE FOUR 2007 engage | uk