Feeds

Small firms surfing web to non-local markets

Casting the net wide

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

In the age of internet commerce and long-distance transactions, a growing number of small businesses feel less a part of their local communities, according to a new survey.

Research from NatWest shows that a fifth of UK small firms say they concentrate their business beyond their local community.

Nearly three-quarters of small and one-person firms look outside their community for business compared with 46 per cent of those firms with 20 or more employees.

Most cited the internet as the main conduit for facilitating business further afield and feeling less involved in local affairs.

Wholesalers and transport and travel firms were more likely to focus their efforts afar, whereas hotels and restaurants dealt almost exclusively with local customers.

"It seems that the stereotypical small business operating in the local community for the local community, is no more," said Pete Ferns, director of NatWest Business Banking.

"Nowadays, entrepreneurs look further afield for business and the internet has opened up a world of opportunity for them to operate across the globe."

Some, however, have wondered if these figures mark another symptom in the decline of small businesses that has carved away at the image of the traditional British high street.

While it certainly depends on a firm's type of business and if its goods or services are relevant to the local population, Ben Pennington, spokesman for the Forum of Private Business (FPB), said the aggressive encroachment of larger corporations into smaller communities could be driving SMEs onto the internet and away from home.

Supermarkets, in particular, he said, have a way of 'hoovering up' their smaller competition with unfair marketing advantages and tax breaks, such as, for instance, selling hot takeaway food without charging VAT.

"We want to see local businesses operating in the local area, and we want to see the high streets reenergized by giving more small business rates relief," Pennington said. "If you risk losing small businesses, you risk losing your heart."

The study also found that over a quarter of small firms surveyed believed social responsibility, while an important issue for large corporations, is not relevant to their business.

Only 16 per cent felt that small businesses need to be more socially responsible, and paying local charges, such as council tax, is the main reason firms feel involved in their community.

Copyright © 2005, Startups.co.uk logo

Related stories

UK.biz fined £1.8m for illegal software - BSA
UK.biz prefers pets to backup systems
Compliance costs UK.biz dear

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Bose says today IS F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.