Help to grow

The announcement in July 2022 that the Government was expanding its help to grow initiative has been welcomed by business leaders. The scheme previously enabled businesses with between 5 and 249 employees to access discounts worth up to £5000 on approved Customer Relationship Management and Digital Accounting software.

The latest announcement has added eCommerce to the mix, as well as cutting the employee threshold down from five to one. This, the Government anticipates, will make the scheme available to an additional 760,000 businesses.

To qualify, businesses must have been actively trading for over twelve months, be registered with Companies House, have at least one employee who is not an owner, and be purchasing the approved software for the first time. Applicants are restricted in their choice of software; having to choose from a pre-approved list of software providers and systems. It is anticipated that further providers will be added to the approved list in due course. A digital advice service is also planned for later in 2022.

Responding to the announcement, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chair Martin McTague said: “This is an extremely welcome move” adding: “Reducing the threshold to one employee really makes a difference in this space. Together with the addition of e-Commerce software and one-to-one advice for SMEs on technology adoption, this will enable more small businesses to fulfil their growth ambitions and in turn spur our economy.” It has to be noted that the necessity to be registered at Companies House means that unincorporated businesses such as partnerships will not be eligible for the scheme.

In announcing the widening of the scheme, the Government commented that businesses which use CRM systems see on average an 18% boost to their productivity, those that adopt digital accounting software see an average 11.8% increase in employee sales over three years, whilst eCommerce adopters see on average a 7.5% increase in employee sales over three years. It’s a good illustration of the way in which adopting the right technology can make a difference to business productivity and outcomes.

It's a lesson which we are all too well aware of when it comes to business telephone technologies. Here it is not simply a matter of choosing the right systems but ensuring that they are able to be flexibly programmed in response to changing business needs. For example, a fully integrated company switchboard solution can not only be customised to meet initial business requirements, it can also be re-programmed online as required.

For example, if an individual or an entire department is not available for a day, call pathways can quickly be changed to divert calls to other departments, answerphone, or virtual assistant service. Similarly, if a sales promotion is likely to increase call volumes, then the scalable nature of the switchboard means that these can be accommodated without the need to buy extra phone lines. Other features such as call data or call recording can also help businesses to analyse calls, in turn enabling them to reprogramme call pathways or allocate additional call handlers as required.

Written by Alison