The roadmap out of lockdown is well underway and businesses across the UK are opening once again; from pubs and restaurants to shops and hotels, things are looking up. For our channel partners (CPs) it is no different, and after a particularly challenging period, we know you are seeking stability in the post-lockdown world.
That’s why BT has extended its Small Business Support Scheme, which first launched in July 2020, in an effort to rejuvenate the retail and hospitality industry, and also offer support to all business customers, to ensure they could thrive long after the pandemic. As part of the scheme, we have introduced a range of new measures to help small businesses boost their connectivity, cash flow and confidence – all of which are key concerns identified by recent research from Small Business Britain and BT Skills For Tomorrow. Small CPs are encouraged to access the scheme and we’d also encourage those of you selling to small businesses to recommend it to your customers.
Following research with BT and Small Business Britain, we know that more than half of small businesses (53%) do not feel confident in their business. This is a worrying stat coming from the back-bone of the UK economy. But all is not lost. These businesses do seem to understand the importance of digitisation in order to future-proof their operations, with half stating that they are pivoting online to engage with customers more and 45% suggesting they are selling online more and expect their use of digital to increase in the future.
Similarly, in additional research carried out by BT Wholesale and Cisco, 82% of CPs agreed that leading in digital transformation made businesses significantly less vulnerable to the economic impacts of the pandemic. It’s clear that one way to ensure success post-COVID is to embrace digital transformation.
Let’s get digital
It’s well known that the past year has led to the vast majority of the businesses now taking a more strategic, long-term approach to their digital needs. This comes after the first national lockdown which saw an initial explosion of reactive demand for collaboration enhancing tools and capabilities for suddenly remote workforces.
With this in mind, you need to be able to help customers when difficult technical difficulties arise. Technology will only get more advanced and so to be successful, businesses must stay ahead of the curve. Small CPs and small businesses alike can upskill using the BT Small Business Support Scheme:
- Supporting small businesses through mentoring: our mentoring scheme provides free access to BT’s expertise across strategy, marketing, sales and more. BT supports businesses via Digital Boost, a free non-profit platform uniting digital experts with leaders of small businesses and charities.
- Helping small businesses acquire new digital skills: BT’s ambition is to reach one million small business owners and their employees with digital skills by 2025. We have already supported 278,000 small business owners and their employees learn new skills, and our Skills for Tomorrow programme is helping us accelerate those figures. In addition, we have recently released new learning content on crucial topics, including how to prevent cyber-attacks and using social media to reach new customers.
- Wellbeing support: as restrictions lift and we enter a brave new world, we appreciate this is an extremely worrying and uncertain time for many. As well as being as flexible as we can with payment terms for you and offering upskilling support as mentioned above, we are providing customers with access to expertise around maintaining their wellbeing by boosting their mental and physical health. You can find our free online toolkit here.
For CPs, strong partnerships have been critical to surviving the pandemic, with 96% claiming partners kept them operational during the first wave last year. As we navigate our way out of COVID, working together will continue to be of utmost importance, and we know both greater technical and commercial support will be key.
As such, BT’s Small Business Support Scheme also helps businesses to manage their cash flow, which is, naturally, a primary concern. From prompt payment for BT’s small business suppliers to offering financial flexibility to the hardest hit, it’s our number one priority to be a flexible partner. BT’s dedicated team is on hand to support those who are struggling because we ultimately want you to be successful in the long run.
If you’d like to find out more, visit the BT Small Business Support Scheme home page here