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Is the UK’s startup ecosystem under threat

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Is the UK’s startup ecosystem under threat

By Ritam Gandhi, CEO and Founder, Studio Graphene

COVID-19 is the challenge of a generation, and one that will test many businesses in their bid for survival.

Global supply chains have been significantly disrupted, bricks and mortar premises are closed, and business leaders are having to carefully manage the shift to operations being carried out from their employees’ respective homes. But while there are still many questions about how the pandemic will play out, and what repercussions it will have on the private sector, we must remember the innate ability of small businesses to pivot and adapt.

The 2008 financial crash and the more recent EU referendum are two instances in which businesses were forced to quickly find their feet and create new ways of working that could fit with the changing environment. Indeed, the former inspired a new wave of startups that were eager to find opportunities amidst the crisis.

That said, businesses cannot go it alone, and the coronavirus pandemic presents obstacles of a very different nature. The Government must ramp up its support to lead businesses through this uncertain time – or risk watching the nation’s startups flounder.

What the latest research tells us

Ritam Gandhi

Ritam Gandhi

For over a year, Studio Graphene has been running its quarterly Tech Tracker Survey to monitor how businesses have been responding to ever-changing political and economic conditions. The latest iteration of the survey, which was conducted at the end of March 2020, offers a good insight into how prepared UK tech companies are to minimise the disruption caused by the coronavirus.

One observation that stands out is how quickly and dramatically confidence levels have fallen since this time last year. One in three (38%) UK tech startups said they are either ‘not confident’ or ‘not confident at all’ that their business’ turnover will grow in the year ahead. In March 2019, only 4% of companies held this pragmatic view.

Meanwhile, many are holding back on their plans while they await the full fallout from the pandemic. Two in five (40%) businesses have no plans to raise investment in the next 12 months, and half (51%) do not intend to expand into new territories.

It is not difficult to see why such ambitions have been put on hold; the vast majority (91%) of tech startups are ‘very worried’ or ‘worried’ about the impact that COVID-19 will have on their business. Despite this, at the time of surveying, only 69% of businesses have actually put together contingency plans to weather the storm.

One of the most telling statistics from the research is this: over two-thirds (69%) of tech businesses lack confidence in the Government’s ability to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic. The lack of faith in policymaker’s abilities to support them through these testing times deserves immediate attention.

Will UK startups survive? 

Speed is of the essence when it comes to providing businesses with a pathway through the pandemic. In this regard, the Government must be given its due – the Chancellor was quick to step in to offer financial support to those who had seen their cash flow significantly diminished.

Business rates relief and financial support for furloughed workers, which were announced in the early stages of the pandemic, will go a long way in offering much-needed breathing room – as will the loans accessible under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

 On 20 April, the Treasury also made an additional intervention in the form of a £1 billion bailout package – one that is aimed specifically at startups and innovative SMEs. Part of this includes the Future Fund, which is scheduled to launch in May and will make cash available to venture-backed early-stage startups. The remaining funding will be open to small R&D businesses through the UK’s innovation agency Innovate UK.

It’s positive to see the Government take steps to protect cash-strapped companies that hold promising potential. To that end, the latest measures aim to rectify past failings, whereby loss-making companies – by and large, innovative startups who must first invest money before they can turn a profit – were exempt from schemes like the CBILS.

Now, the Government must focus on ensuring that small and ambitious businesses are able to actually get their hands on the financial support offered – and fast. To date, many have struggled to secure funding due to excessive red tape and reluctant lenders.

How startups can raise their odds

I would encourage business leaders to confront the challenges that lie ahead by leveraging tech to their best advantage. We are already seeing many instances of companies actively considering how they can pivot their services and adapt their offering; namely, by using tech to reach consumers directly.

Now that face-to-face experiences are, for the time being, out of the question, many businesses are running events such as webinar sessions digitally. Gyms and yoga studios are livestreaming their classes, with theatres, music venues and comedy clubs also live streaming performances. Delivery apps, meanwhile, are helping divert produce from cafés and restaurants straight to customers’ doorsteps.

Many businesses are also taking the opportunity to utilise software solutions in order to play their part in fighting the pandemic. Digital health startups have risen to the challenge of monitoring, and thereby reducing, the spread of the virus. Tracker apps, like the one developed by INKC19, have been made available to both support the NHS and give consumers a better understanding of the symptoms and effects of COVID-19.

Over the coming weeks and months, technology will allow businesses to continue providing their services, and ultimately help keep them afloat. There is no denying that the path ahead is unclear. What is clear, however, is that coronavirus will have a lasting impact on all sectors. That’s why I would urge policymakers to double down on their efforts to help the private sector weather the storm.

And finally, business leaders, I urge you to make the most of the technology that is within reach. This is the only way to ensure that we come out the other side with as little damage as possible.

Business

Staff training crucial for SME recovery post-COVID

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Staff training crucial for SME recovery post-COVID 1
  • 47% of UK’s top performing SMEs provide regular, formalised training for all staff
  • Despite this, 15% of small businesses report to never training staff
  • New findings come as part of an independent, holistic study into small business success, commissioned by Allica Bank to support British businesses

A new study, commissioned by business bank, Allica Bank, shows that the practice of regular training correlates strongly with high performance in SMEs and will be vital to businesses’ prospects of a swift recovery post-COVID. The study analysed data from over 1,000 companies and ranked their success on a scale that evaluated factors including productivity, growth, consistency and outlook.

Post-pandemic, many businesses will be focussing on day-to-day survival; it might be easy to forget long-term planning, of which staff training is a key component. Allica Bank’s findings indicate that small businesses should incorporate training programmes into their recovery strategy to ensure long-term viability. Training will improve morale, retention and boost the company’s credibility.

The study showed that routine staff training is a common characteristic among the most successful SMEs. 47% of the 100 highest scorers on the SME Performance Index provided training for employees at least on a quarterly basis. However, nearly half of all small businesses (46%) only provide training once a year or less, inadvertently hindering their growth and success prospects.

Frequency of training also differed across sectors. 34% of legal businesses provide training for staff once a month compared to just 6% in the hospitality and leisure sector. Whilst there will always be sector-specific disparities, firms in all industries can benefit from boosting and improving their training programmes.

Chris Weller, Chief Commercial Officer, Allica Bank, said:

With so many concerns and barriers for small businesses to navigate in the immediate term, it can be difficult for managers to focus on the training and development of their teams. However, if COVID has taught us anything, it is that adaptability and resilience are invaluable.

“The provision of regular training not only builds these characteristics into teams but serves to maintain a sense of value and togetherness that will boost morale, aide retention and improve performance – all of which contribute to the ongoing success of a business.”

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to training, but it’s vital for business longevity that staff are supported with a formalised programme of some description. Customers will respond well to a company whose employees demonstrate enthusiasm and competence. Employees also need to feel that their skills are constantly being improved and expanding. These skills will contribute to the success of a company and this will feed through to the bottom line.”

Allica Bank’s SME Guide to Success identified six ‘rules to success’ that were more likely to be displayed by top-performing SMEs compared to their counterparts. The full report contains a wealth of additional data and insight into each of these topics.

As part of its mission to empower small businesses, Allica Bank is making the findings freely available and running a series of free online workshops with relevant partner organisations for businesses to attend.

Aliya Vigor-Robertson, CEO, JourneyHR, the expert partner for Allica Bank’s training workshop, adds:

Staff need direction and the knowledge that they are advancing in their career to stay motivated and engaged at work. An unmotivated, disengaged team is no recipe for long-term success and will ultimately hamper a business. Team members that lack tangible support from above are less likely to identify with their role and its duties, which is a completely natural reaction.

“Regular staff training is a key component of tangible support and will make the team feel secure in their career development. A happy team with purpose and direction will contribute to a thriving business”

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What Is Globalization

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What Is Globalization 2

What is globalization? Globalization, or inter-connectedness, is the ever-growing process of integration and interaction among countries, individuals, businesses, and even governments all over the world. Globalization has rapidly accelerated in recent years because of advances in communication and transportation technology. This allows us to be able to get from one country to another quickly and easily. This also allows us to communicate freely use the Internet to connect with our friends and families around the world.

So what is globalization and why is it important? Globalization will benefit many people around the world who are looking to travel more freely, save money on their monthly expenditure, be able to meet new friends and relatives from different parts of the world, learn more about a new culture, and take part in trade and commerce.

Globalization will benefit all of us because there will be more opportunities for everyone to participate in global markets. People in different countries have access to resources, information, and products they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford. There are also many opportunities for people to work at home.

Globalization is not just an economic boon, but it can also benefit all of us in other ways. As globalization continues, the boundaries between individuals, states, and countries will become less porous. There will be fewer political conflicts in the world, less violence, and a greater sense of cooperation, tolerance, and peace. These are all positive impacts of globalization.

However, globalization has also created some negative effects as well. It has caused people from one country to move to another to take advantage of globalization. This is also leading to some negative consequences such as a reduction of jobs in some countries. The effects of globalization also include increased competition and unemployment in many countries. Due to this decrease in jobs, wages are dropping.

The only way we can stop globalization is to make sure that we know what it is and what its benefits are. We must understand globalization and its impact on our lives and make sure we are ready to accept the changes that it may bring. if it is inevitable in the future.

The key is to be educated about globalization. There are plenty of books, websites, and television shows that explain how globalization is impacting us and the rest of the world. Globalization is not always bad, but we must be careful not to lose sight of its positives.

In the end, globalization is here to stay, so we must learn to live with it and embrace its benefits. We cannot fight it and try to fight it off, but we must learn to deal with it. And we can do that by educating ourselves. Globalization is here to stay for the long term but we must learn to adapt to it and learn how to live with it.

Globalization can be beneficial for all of us, but it has also caused many problems in the past. There were many cases of unfair trade practices and there was the rise of unfair labor practices. Some people argue that globalization has also reduced the pay of most Americans. So while globalization is definitely not all bad, we should understand that the benefits of globalization are not unlimited. and that we must be willing to give it some limitations and accept some sacrifices.

The biggest benefit of globalization is the ability for all of us to communicate with each other easily. The ability to connect with other people across borders makes it possible to share ideas, information, and knowledge. Since we can communicate with each other, the chances of getting a good price for our goods or services goes up dramatically. and it also allows us to save money by buying in bulk. This also translates to more savings on our end.

As mentioned earlier, globalization has brought about a change in the way people work and live because people are no longer tied down by jobs. They now have the freedom to travel and do what they enjoy.

As globalization continues, there will always be some people who are unhappy with globalization and are afraid to open their eyes to new opportunities that are available to them. But that is okay; this is part of the process of globalization.

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What Is Microsoft Teams

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What Is Microsoft Teams 3

Microsoft Teams is an application and web-based collaboration tool that combines chat, videos, online collaboration, document storage, and collaboration with other applications. The service integrates well with the Microsoft Office 365 business solution and features numerous extensions that can integrate well with other non-Microsoft products, like SharePoint. There are many different versions of Microsoft Teams but here are some of the basic functions that all versions offer.

Teams also offers a variety of options for people to create and customize their own groups. This feature provides a way for people to organize their teams within Microsoft Teams. For example, there may be teams for business projects and then another group for personal tasks or social tasks. There are also different types of teams which include teams for social, personal and business.

Microsoft Teams allows users to make lists of files and documents and view them from different perspectives such as in the document viewer or from another Microsoft Teams project. This feature is called “project pane”, and it shows a summary of each of the files in the project. There are also sections for all files in the project that you can see in the “Files” pane.

Microsoft Teams gives users the ability to share information and collaborate on these shared items. A user can create a document that has other people add comments or attach files and then save the document to a list so that other people can view the document in a Microsoft Teams document viewer.

Another feature of Teams is the ability for you to invite other team members to work with you. A user can join a team and then invite other team members to collaborate with the team members who join the team. You can also invite team members to join a new team. When a team member joins a new team, they will be automatically added to your existing teams and the teams will merge together.

Microsoft Teams provides a number of different ways for you to collaborate with others and see the files and documents of others. These include groups and threads in the main document viewer. You can search your files using the search box in the document viewer and you can share your documents with others by email.

Microsoft Teams provides users with a variety of different tools to help you organize and manage your teams. You can assign members to specific teams, assign permissions to members, create custom groups, organize tasks and events, and organize files and documents into groups.

Microsoft Teams can help you build a team and create a collaboration culture that you want to create at your organization. You can use this tool to build effective teams and increase productivity and improve your relationships within the organization. Microsoft Teams offers a variety of options to help you get started and become more productive quickly and easily.

Teams are created easily. If you have several departments within your organization and need to create a team for each department you can do this easily. Teams are made easy and you can get your teams up and running quickly.

One of the best features of Microsoft Teams is the ability to invite people from around the world and let them work with the same documents and projects. You can have the documents and projects organized and shared in the same way throughout the entire organization, regardless of what country they were created in. You can create a similar project in the same language that they were created in and share it with other employees in the organization.

One of the most amazing features of Microsoft Teams is the ability to have multiple team members edit and view the documents and files in the same way. With Microsoft Teams you can have a document and have people edit the same document at the same time without any problems. The changes that you make can also be seen by other team members and can be modified by them without ever needing to send the document again.

Microsoft Teams is the perfect tool for building a powerful and effective collaboration culture. You can share documents and files in the same way that the rest of the organization can view the information.

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