49% of UK small firms fear they’ll go under without external support

Caribbean cuisine entrepreneur Levi Roots and beauty and wellness megabrand founder Liz Earle are stepping in as small business mentors after new research finds that almost half of all UK small firms (49 percent) are worried their business won’t survive without external support.

The Dragons’ Den star and wellbeing entrepreneur are leading a partnership between BT and Google to offer more mentoring to UK small firms and encourage them to unlock the benefits of digital skills training to drive post-pandemic growth and prosperity.

The research found that as well as concerns about their business future without more support, more than 6 in 10 (64 percent) of small firms said they would be more likely to adopt new technologies if the IT and telecoms industry provided training.

The ‘Get mentored, Get growing’ campaign highlights a partnership between BT and Google, that offers free one-to-one mentoring sessions for UK small businesses and charities covering a range of topics including digital marketing, e-commerce and business strategy.

Ronan Harris, Google’s UK MD, said: ”We’re proud to partner with BT and the participating business leaders on this inspirational program. Equipping small businesses with the digital tools needed to grow and succeed, is not only integral to future-proofing the UK business landscape but it’s the next step in the UK’s journey to economic recovery.

“We’re committed to making sure shared knowledge and digital skills are as accessible as possible and make a lasting impact for the entrepreneurs of the future.”

Chris Sims, BT’s MD for its SoHo (Single/Small Office, Home Office) unit, said: “Our partnership with Google comes from a shared vision and commitment to help small businesses harness digital as a driver of growth and prosperity.

“Through our free mentoring programme and digital skills training, we’re aiming to equip small firms with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a digital world. BT initiatives, including one-to-one mentorships, have already boosted the digital literacy of almost 300,000 small business employees to date and our partnership with Google is helping us significantly extend our reach and impact within the small business community.”

Commenting on his involvement in the BT and Google campaign, Levi Roots said; “Running your own business can sometimes be overwhelming and lonely, so I know from my own Dragons Den experience how game-changing it was, both professionally and personally, to work with someone who could understand and appreciate my challenges and ambitions, and give me personalised, meaningful and actionable advice, as well as practical tools and training to help me build and grow my business.

“I’m really delighted to get the chance to pay it forward and share my journey and insights with today’s small business community and help them unlock the power of digital to accelerate their growth.”

Liz Earle added; “When my beauty brand was launched more than twenty years ago, our mail order business was based around paper forms and payments by cheque. Today, everything moves at a completely different pace. You have to act like a publisher on your social media channels and be super responsive to customers who want a real-time answer, not a letter in the post!

“With my later publishing brand, we had to learn a mass of digital skills super-fast and I encourage small businesses to grab all the available resources and training they can to help successfully navigate their way in the online world.”