Feature Finance — 14 March 2018
  • Over 70% of Britain’s small businesses and entrepreneurs are crying out for more support when it comes to embracing digital and having an online presence.
  • Britain’s challenger bank, TSB, launches new  programme in partnership with Enterprise Nation to unlock the potential of Britain’s small businesses through the power of digital.

TSB today announces a new partnership with Enterprise Nation, the UK’s most active small business network, to help boost the digital capability of small businesses and entrepreneurs – and ultimately unlock their currently unfulfilled potential.

TSB’s existing business banking customers1 will receive a year’s free membership of Enterprise Nation from April 2018 and a “digital MOT” to determine what advice and support will best unlock their business’ digital potential.

To kick start their digital transformation, these small businesses will receive a digital voucher bundle worth up to £500 which can be used, for example, to fund advertising search credits, help build a website or buy new technology.  Big brands backing the programme to support the small business cause include Google, GoDaddy, Experian and Xero.  TSB customers will be able to use their digital voucher offers with these partners and many more.

The Bank will also be piloting a branch-based advice scheme, initially in three local TSB branches in Leicester, Birmingham and Glasgow – where TSB’s small business customers will be able to meet with digital experts face-to-face.

No other high street bank in the UK currently offers this solution to help bridge this digital advice gap which TSB believes is critical to help more small businesses to thrive, and ultimately address the stagnation of productivity in the UK.

Today’s announcement comes hot off the heels of TSB creating 15 new Relationship Manager roles to help support small businesses and entrepreneurs – on the ground in their local communities, delivering the kind of banking experience the Bank believes small businesses want and deserve.  TSB is now hiring in Leicester, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh.  The Bank was recently recognised by the Sunday Times as one of the UK’s top five best big companies to work for and the best bank to work for in the UK.

TSB is starting to put all the pieces in place to lead the charge in bringing more competition to the small business banking market in 2018.  A multi-million pound investment programme is already underway to build new banking services for small businesses across the UK – led by TSB’s new Commercial Banking Director, Richard Davies.  TSB also announced last month with its parent, Sabadell, that up to £100 million pounds of funding will be made available to invest in small businesses and start-ups based in regions right across the UK.

Getting Britain’s small businesses and entrepreneurs “digitally ready”

Despite a dramatic increase in the number of consumers buying online in the UK, Britain’s smallest firms – those with nine or fewer employees – are not feeling the benefits from this shift to a more digital way of doing business.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), online sales increased 21 per cent year-on-year in December 2016 with Britain’s e-commerce economy reaching £130 billion.  However ONS data2 also reveals that fewer than 10% of all sales from Britain’s smallest firms were e-commerce transactions, compared with almost 56% of sales from larger firms with more than 1,000 employees.

And it’s no wonder, with new research from Enterprise Nation research revealing that over 70% of Britain’s small businesses and entrepreneurs are crying out for more support when it comes to embracing digital and having an online presence3.

Embracing digital will not only help to unlock the currently unfulfilled potential of small businesses, it will also become a requirement that businesses cannot avoid.  For example, from April 2019, small businesses who are VAT registered will be required to submit quarterly digital accounts as part of HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital for Business’ initiative.

TSB’s Commercial Banking Director, Richard Davies, says:  “I’ve always been inspired by the capacity of small businesses to ride the economic waves, create jobs and serve local communities – but we know they are crying out for more support when it comes to embracing the digital revolution.

“Small businesses need banking partners who want to actively to support them, with fresh thinking and new services – to unlock the true potential of small businesses and ultimately address the productivity gap that exists in the UK today.

“SMEs want the best of new technologies and business advisors to help them thrive – not the current status quo which sees banks putting obstacles in their way and looking for ways to extract money from them.  Solutions need to be personalised, not ‘one size fits all’, and this needs to happen right across the UK, not just in London.  Enterprise Nation is helping us to develop and deliver quality, digital support and I’m delighted we can offer this to the small businesses and entrepreneurs that we serve.”

Emma Jones, Founder of Enterprise Nation, says:  “An initiative like this is desperately needed.  Small local firms are missing out dramatically on the benefits that digital know-how can bring, not just to sales but to productivity.

“Offering vouchers that can be exchanged for digital services is inspired, and exactly what we need to see banks doing – recognising there is much more to be done to support businesses, and that their own local branches are far from redundant – in fact they are the perfect venue from which to deliver important help.”

“There are a lot of compelling reasons why firms really must find the time to embrace the digital world once and for all.  With more fundamental services like tax moving online only, finding out more about the digital opportunity is no longer a choice.”

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, says:  “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and this great initiative will give more of them access to vital digital support.  We want everyone to benefit from the digital revolution and, through the Digital Skills Partnership that TSB has now joined, we are making millions of free training opportunities available to help make the UK one of the​world’s most​digitally skilled nations.”

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