3 things that every business owner needs to realise – and fast!

On the back of its DNA of an Entrepreneur report, Hiscox UK outlines the key findings that start-ups and small businesses can't afford to ignore...

This year’s Hiscox DNA of an Entrepreneur report, a study of 4,000 small businesses in the UK, continental Europe and the USA, provides valuable insights for start-ups.

The majority of small businesses surveyed have experienced rising revenues and growth in their customer base. They also show a lack of concern about Brexit. Investment has surpassed expectations and, in the UK in particular, entrepreneurial spirit is thriving.

One of the main reasons we created this in-depth report is to better understand the challenges small businesses face and three important take-away points emerged from the study that all businesses should take-away and learn from…

It’s not enough to just ‘be on’ social media

Social media is fast becoming an accepted part of business, with more than a third (36%) of small business owners now seeing no barrier to using it.

There has been significant growth in the use of social media since 2015, with those using it for customer service rising from 28% to 39%, for market research up from 11% to 16%, for communications, PR and marketing from 28% to 35%, and, in the area of prospecting, the figure has gone from 24% to 30%.

So, what does this mean for start-ups? Essentially, it is no longer enough to treat social media as ‘nice to have’.

The report shows that businesses are using social media for a multitude of purposes, and are increasingly exploring how it can benefit their operations. Start-ups need to get savvy with social media and make it work for them. Read Startups’ guide to social media for business here.

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Your business needs to be proactive, not reactive, against cybercrime

This year’s report showed that one in 10 businesses (11%) suffered a cyber-attack in the past year. On top of that, 8% of businesses said they weren’t sure whether they had been the victim of a cyber attack. Of those businesses that were aware of an attack, over a quarter (26%) said that it had resulted in a serious loss to the company but only one in six had been able to make an insurance claim.

Many start-ups are simply not equipped to deal with something such as an extortion hack, where they could be blackmailed for tens of thousands of pounds.

Cyber-attacks can be crippling – not only for start-ups but for well established businesses too. Education is key; business owners should train staff in how to spot attacks, and invest in the right protection methods, which could mean hiring someone with cyber security expertise.

Be optimistic: The future is still bright

Some 22% of small businesses said that bank funding had become more difficult to access, up from 19% last year. Yet many businesses have responded to this issue with the ingenuity you would expect of entrepreneurs: one in 10 said they were contemplating crowdfunding or peer to peer lending over the coming year.

With more than 63% of small firms reporting improving order books, the future looks bright. What is certain is that there is an evident determination among respondents to succeed.

Ultimately, the report highlighted that small business owners see long hours and hard work as the key to success – perhaps this is the biggest take-away of all for start-ups.


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