'Use the web' says Dragons' Den entrepreneur

Published:  18 January, 2012

MANCHESTER: Doug Richard, entrepreneur and one of the original investors on BBC Dragons' Den, urged small firms to increase their online activities to help them grow and become more profitable.

The founder of School for Start-Ups is hosting a series of one-day boot camps in partnership with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to teach SMEs to fully exploit the internet. He was in Manchester yesterday to kick-start the Web Fuelled Business programme, which hopes to attract 350-500 people to each event.

He said that SMEs need to find alternative routes to reach new clients in the UK and overseas to achieve growth. "SMEs tend not to take advantage of the web. It could be because of lack of knowledge, time and resources, but we want to show that there are advantages to seeking opportunities online," he said.

"The key about online trading is to make sure your customers can find you and that if they're searching for your products on Google, the chance of discovering you should be high. Search engine optimisation is really important and is something we will look at," he explained.

Alongside selling online and increasing internet exposure, the programme will also look at driving marketing through social media, and procuring and enhancing supply chains through business-to-business websites.

Mr Richard said: "This year is set to be one of the toughest economic environments in recent history – and my goal is to persuade SMEs that your country needs you, as our economy depends on the survival of our small businesses.

"This is my Lord Kitchener moment. Young businesses are the wealth and job creators that will haul us out of this recession, but in order for them to survive, they must use the internet as their lifeline.

"It gives businesses the potential to become global in just a few clicks."

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