“Unbreakable” support for our smallest businesses

By Chris Sims, MD, SoHo, for BT’s Enterprise unit

What do Apple, Gym Shark, Reddit and The Walt Disney Co all have in common? Well, despite the global powerhouse brands they are today, all four started from humble beginnings in a rusty old garage.

The popularity of the “side hustle” has really exploded over the past 12 months in the wake of the pandemic. Across the country, we’ve seen entrepreneurial endeavours in the UK soar. Some of this has been driven out of necessity, with displaced workers needing to create a new source of income, while others have taken the plunge to fulfil a life-long dream of being their own boss. And at BT, we think the rise of digital shopkeepers, freelancers and others who run their business from home is very much here to stay.

Today, 95 per cent – or around 5.7 million – of the UK’s private sector companies are SoHo (Single/Small office, Home office) businesses with under 10 employees. And despite the tough and uncertain times that small businesses have been through, we’ve also seen a growing sense of optimism over the course of the pandemic. Record numbers of start-ups have been created with some 800, 000 new businesses registered in the UK last year. Whilst home working is not a new phenomenon, the pace and acceleration of this trend is. Most of these new firms will be running their business from home; there are around 2 million home-based businesses in the UK already, with this figure forecast to grow further. And why not? The pandemic, coupled with the shifts in digital adoption and the rise of the millennial mindset - which demands greater flexibility around when, where and how people work- has proved that commerce can be conducted from anywhere, anytime. All it requires to kick-start a new business is a good idea, some entrepreneurial spirit…….and the power of the internet.

BT’s new SoHo unit: shining a spotlight on the UK’s smallest firms

We firmly believe in a small business led recovery, and it’s clear that micro-companies will be the powerhouse behind this.

So today, we’re strengthening our commitment to supporting the UK’s smallest firms by announcing the creation of a new SoHo unit with our Enterprise division. This new unit is tasked with developing a new a suite of products and services designed specifically for micro-businesses, while delivering value for money and a premium customer experience. I’m really proud to be leading this new unit at a time when the success of start-ups and micro companies has never been more important to the future of our economy.

Delivering flawless connectivity, coverage and customer service

As one of our first moves to better support this part of the market, today we’re launching UK’s first ‘unbreakable’ Wi-Fi package for micro-businesses - delivering guaranteed coverage across the workplace, full fibre speeds of up to 900Mbps and free tech expert support. Complete with 4G back-up, business-grade security, a digital phone line and UK-based advanced remote IT support available 24/7, there really is nothing else quite like it in the market. And we’re proud to be the only UK business communications provider to guarantee your connection AND coverage across your entire premises – so that your broadband never lets you down.

Building strong digital foundations

But that’s not all. We understand that micro-businesses are often lacking in time and technical know-how, so they need a provider who can go above and beyond their expectations, leaving them to focus on what’s most important to their business. So, in addition to giving them unrivalled connectivity, we’ll be developing a new suite of adjacent services and apps to help them build strong, digital foundations which set them up for future growth. An example of this is equipping them with new online tools to help them embrace the power of digital marketing. We’re currently trialling these tools with our customers, with the aim of helping them reach more customers by building their online presence across major digital advertising platforms. Watch this space for more details about this exciting launch!

While our mission to help the millions of micro-businesses which form the backbone of the UK economy is just getting started, we’ve been assisting hundreds of thousands of small firms over the past year through our Small Business Support Scheme. With the standing up of our new SoHo unit, we’re committed to helping the UK’s smallest and fledgling firms to bounce back stronger. We’re really excited about the years ahead as we cautiously leave the pandemic in our rear-view mirror. So many iconic businesses have started life from the humble home office, and we want to play our part in transforming today’s small enterprises into tomorrow’s success stories. With strong connectivity, coverage, confidence and customer service behind them, together, we can achieve anything.