Reliable connectivity key to smooth business running for UK SMEs

Study from Sky Business shows that in today’s uncertain economic climate, UK SMEs are under pressure to cut costs while maintaining quality services, with the impact of energy prices cited as a major concern

As many as just over three in five (62%) UK small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have considered switching broadband providers due to poor performance, and almost three in five (59%) regard a reliable internet connection as critical to the smooth running of their business, research from Sky Business has revealed.

The study, carried out by OnePoll between 11 and 13 April 2023, questioned 505 UK SME owners, aged over 18, who use broadband networks. The research – which comes as other Sky reports showed interest rates are likely to rise further – revealed that SME owners are feeling the crunch, with more than half (55%) worried about how the cost-of-living crisis will affect their business.

In particular, the data suggested that SMEs are under pressure to cut costs while maintaining quality services, with the impact of energy prices (38%), rising interest rates (17%) and lack of government support (14%) also cited as major concerns of SME owners running a business in today’s uncertain economic climate.

And with financial pressures piling up, the study found that SME owners are putting the work in. Three-quarters said they could never switch off, while 59% indicated that they get their spouse to help them with the work they bring home. But this, Sky Business stressed, presents its own challenges, with 43% saying overworking has resulted in arguments at home.

Given that 35% of SME owners agreed that slow broadband was their biggest broadband bugbear, the reimagined B2B division of network and TV service provider Sky said it was unsurprising that when asked what would ensure the smooth operation of their business in the coming year, a reliable internet connection was cited by 59% of respondents. This was followed by a good support network of family and friends (34%), good supplier relations (33%) and good staff (31%).

“This is why at Sky Business we’ve implemented promises to our customers to help them tackle these challenges, including our stay-connected guarantee and our Wi-Fi 6 Hub, which delivers powerful Wi-Fi connection for up to 100 devices,” said Sky Business managing director Steve Hackley, commenting on the report.

“Under this guarantee – and with our 4G backup – our customers will remain connected at all times so they can enjoy uninterrupted connectivity. But for businesses who do experience any faults, we also offer 24-hour UK business support to give our customers peace of mind that we are on hand to fix any faults, at any time – day or night,” he added.

Charlie Gallienne-Schmidt, founder of office provider Sandbox Workspace, said the emotional burden associated with even the smallest of decisions during a period of economic downturn can be stressful, and that solo founders can feel this more.

“Working in the workspace industry, we’ve been hit hard by those moving to fully remote working. It’s therefore critical that to continue to grow and maintain a loyal customer base, we’re able to remain affordable to our customers whilst supplying them with the service they need,” added Gallienne-Schmidt.

“For this, I rely heavily on a stable and reliable internet connection. We’ve found that with hybrid working, there’s even more pressure on us to ensure that we’re providing a reliable internet service that supports the rise in video calls. Ultimately, bad internet massively undermines what we do as a business.”    

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