71 per cent of small businesses expect to create more jobs after going online
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and I, along with my colleague Ged Nash, yesterday presented the 1000th Trading Online Voucher to small business owner, John Lawton from JL Intelligent Cooling Systems, a Kilkenny-based company that sells portable cooling and heating systems.
To mark the 1000th voucher, I also published a report on the impact of the Government’s Trading Online Voucher Scheme. It revealed that small businesses that move online experience a 21% average increase in sales, while over 70% of businesses surveyed expect to recruit new staff.
The Trading Online Voucher Scheme was launched by the Government last year. It offers small businesses a grant of up to €2,500 – subject to matching funding – as well as training, mentoring and networking support to help them develop their online trading capability.
An Taoiseach welcomed the report’s findings and said: “The Government has a plan to rebuild an enterprise-focused economy that can support full employment by 2018. Small businesses are the backbone of every Irish town and village and, with consumers across Ireland now spending almost €700,000 online each hour, trading online is essential to create new jobs, new business, and new exports. As a small, open economy, our SMEs need to compete in a global market place and the Trading Online Voucher is one way for them to get ahead. The Government is committed to rolling out the Trading Online Voucher Scheme to more interested businesses, to improving digital skills amongst businesses and vulnerable groups, and to working at European level to develop a digital single market for the benefit of Irish SMEs and jobs.”
The report shows that seven out of ten firms supported by this scheme expect to take on new staff to cope with the online business they have generated. With the potential creation of an average of 1.4 new jobs per company – in businesses that employ ten staff or less – trading online is making a tangible impact on jobs and economic activity in Ireland.
The average sales increase of 21% is five times the growth rate in the rest of the economy. This shows that small businesses with limited resources can expect an excellent return if they invest in online trading. No wonder businesses that make the leap into online trading believe their internet business will become more and more important to them.
Some 225 businesses that had received Trading Online Vouchers responded to a survey, which found that:
- 85% saw an increase in customer inquiries
- The businesses surveyed reported an average 21% increase in sales
- 71% expected to recruit new staff to cope with new business
- An average of 1.4 jobs per business were expected to be created (in businesses that employ ten staff or less)
- 40% of businesses had generated customer interest from new markets overseas
- 60% said that the new business was additional and did not displace existing sales
- 99% expected their online business to grow in importance
- 80% said the competitive application process helped them in business strategy planning.
The scheme was developed as a partnership between the Department of Communications, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Local Enterprise Offices and Enterprise Ireland.
I particularly pay tribute to the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices involved in making the scheme a success to date, and looked forward to further businesses going online to improve and expand their growth. And I urge all small businesses to begin their trading online journey and to contact their Local Enterprise Office to apply for a Trading Online Voucher.