News in brief: technology; finance; M&A

News in brief
News in brief


New research shows worrying lack of digital skills in the UK

Digital skills charity GO ON has unveiled a digital-exclusion, heat-map of the UK. The research revealed that 23% of the UK’s SMEs do not have the basic digital skills needed to succeed in the digital age.

Responding to the news, MD for Sage UK and Ireland Lee Perkins said the skills crisis is putting at risk the ability of UK small businesses to compete.

He said: “Understandably, a lot of the focus has been on the difference that the internet can make to people in their everyday lives, but the impact for businesses is just as great. Clearly social media can help with brand building and provide a new channel to engage with existing customers and reach new ones, but the opportunities offered by the internet go way beyond that. It’s about driving tangible benefit within your business through things like being able to identify new and more cost-effective suppliers.”

Top tips for beating online fraudsters

Payment specialist allpay Limited has published its top tips for avoiding online fraud. The tips include:

Protect your computer – The first thing that you must do, before you even consider shopping online, is to protect your computer against hackers, malware and viruses.

Look for the padlock icon – When visiting a website, if the padlock icon does not appear in the browser or beginning of the web address, do not share any personal information on the site.

Use a prepaid card – Rather than use a credit card or debit card to make a purchase online, why not use a prepaid card? The prepaid card will not be connected to your bank and if the worst should happen you will only lose the amount equal to the limit of the card and no more.

Password protect – Password protect your bank account, your mobile phone and any other channels that could be at risk from online fraud.

Avoid risk – If the price of a trip to Australia or designer handbag appears too good to be true, it probably is.

Nowadays, SMEs can’t afford not to be digitally savvy – you need basic skills to succeed, and a basic understanding of online payments to avoid fraud.


Younger SMEs are more likely to consider alternative finance

Younger SMEs are more likely to consider a diverse range of options when seeking finance or information to expand their business, including turning to friends and family, compared with older companies, the Business Banking Insight (BBI) has found.

An ICM poll of 5,000 SMEs found that 42% of businesses formed after 2010 would consider approaching acquaintances and relations for business investment and 64% of these businesses would turn to their friends and family for guidance around finance. This compares to just 22% of businesses created pre-2000 who would think about using this type of finance and 45% who would ask their nearest and dearest for information.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury Harriett Baldwin said: “Britain’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy, which is why a key part of our long-term plan is making sure they can access the finance they need to grow, create jobs and succeed. Data collected as part of the Business Banking Insight survey shows that our plan is working and that our smallest businesses are increasingly considering alternative finance providers.”

Chivas Regal announces the second year of ‘The Venture’

Chivas Regal has launched the second year of its search to support the most exciting social entrepreneurs around the world. With $1 million (more than £650,000) in funding and resources, the competition is open to any for-profit start-up that creates both financial value and a positive impact on the lives of others.

This year, the UK finalist will receive an additional £10,000 of prize money and bespoke business mentoring, as well as the opportunity to compete with social entrepreneurs from in excess of 25 countries for a share of the $1 million fund as part of the global final.

To enter The Venture, aspiring social entrepreneurs should visit to submit their application. The deadline for UK entries is midnight on 30 November. For more information, follow Chivas Regal on Twitter @ChivasRegalUK #theventureUK.

If you are an entrepreneur seeking finance, don’t be afraid to think outside the box – alternative finance is a growing industry, and competitions for funding can be a good way to get your business going!


Shirlaws Group acquires Families in Business

Families in Business (FiB), an independent support organisation for family firms, has announced that it will become a subsidiary of the Shirlaws Group.

FiB founder Dani Saveker remains at its helm as CEO and becomes a shareholder and global partner of the Shirlaws Group.

“It is business as usual for FiB,” Dani explains. “FiB will continue to operate as it does today, but now benefits from being an integral family-business focused part of the international Shirlaws Group, which provides the resource and global network to enable FiB to grow faster in the UK and to realise its international expansion plans.”