Searching for Local Businesses Online...
- Convenience - everyday millions of people lookup the telephone numbers of local businesses. Customers are becoming increasingly savvy by researching potential suppliers listed within a business directory before contacting a supplier;
- Real-time Updates - Online directories help you keep up to date. Get the latest comments and customer rating and reviews. Likewise, business owners like to keep their own contact details up-to-date. Firms frequently move office, or add new phone number. So, business owners can easily log-in and manage their online business listing can also be kept up-to-date;
- Interactive Information - most respectable business directories allow advertisers to enhance their listing by uploading multimedia content (such as maps, pictures, videos, reviews, and audio). This helps to promote and advertise more effectively;
- Confidence Boost - when a prospective customer visits the website of an advertiser, they can 'get a feel' for the level of professionalism and credibility of a potential supplier;
- Buy Now - if your in a hurry to make that purchase, an online business directory can you find the right company quickly and painlessly. Many online business websites provide sophisticated directory search capabilities to help website visitors quickly identify potential suppliers by geography, size, keyword and many other criteria. This is infinitely quicker than flicking through a whopping paper-based trade directory, in the hope of narrowing down the list of potential suppliers.
Supporting Local Businesses...
We believe that small businesses are the lifeblood of any local economy, generating wealth and employment for millions of people. History has proven that the greater the number of entrepreneurial small businesses that exist within an economy, the higher the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of that economy becomes. Owners create and attack new markets, create new products and services that generates jobs, wealth and prosperity amongst local business communities. For example, in the UK alone there are 4.2m small and medium sized enterprises (SME), and an incredible 2.1m of those are micro businesses based at home. SME firms employ nearly half the UK workforce and accounts for nearly half of the UK's turnover. To help these small organisations, there are many business associations, business networks, business forums and lobbying groups, providing a valuable voice, on behalf of business owners.
Like most Western economies, the UK is now a service led economy. Millions of small firms provide thousands of different types of small business services. This 'services sector' generally, contributes the majority of GDP. These firms deliver services locally that they cannot easily export. So their success or demise is directly linked to business confidence, and local spending and investment patterns. Most small firms provide invaluable 'business to business' support for larger business customers. Others deliver services directly to consumers. Most small firms trade as either a Sole Trader, Limited Liability Company or Partnership.
The Growth of Small Businesses...
At a time of economic uncertainty, an emerging trend is the increase in over 50's starting up their own business. Many do so to supplement their retirement income out of necessity as inflation erodes savings and pensions. Many older people start a business up out of choice. The desire to feel active and worthwhile. Generally speaking, most entrepreneurs start their own small business in order to take control of their own destiny, and capitalise on proven skills and experience. Yet talent is not always enough. As an entrepreneur you will need a realistic business plan, complete personal commitment, and the ability to work hard, and adapt when times become tough. If you plan to deliver a service you will be selling yourself - not just a package of business services. Your integrity, work rate, customer service and listening skills - will all be called into question. You will also have to spend time and money learning and dealing with the laws and regulations that impact day to day activities. Unfortunately, a certain proportion of business start-ups fail within the first few years of trading. Too many business owners concentrate on selling, without bothering to forecast cash flow problems (such as unforeseen expenses or bad debt).
During economic boom times, there has been an explosion in the number of people leaving full time employment and setting up on their own. Many entrepreneurs formed a company, with a dream and a business idea. However, during the recent recessionary cycle, business confidence has been destroyed, and larger companies have cut back their operating expenditures (OPEX). These cut-backs greatly impact small firms, whose survival depends upon selling the business services to their larger business clients as result. Cashflow and margins are coming under intense pressure. In addition, small businesses have had to differentiate their proposition (to compete more effectively), as well as plan for falling sales. Many are freezing recruitment, shedding staff, cutting advertising costs and long term business investments, in order to offer their customers an attractive price for their business services.
Traditionally most small and medium sized businesses are generally under funded, and do not have the professional financial expertise and experience of finance managers of large corporate organisations. As personal, business and Government debt mountains exploded over the years, eventually the world woke up to the scale of bad debt. The subsequent Global liquidity crisis (or 'credit crunch' as it has become known), now means small firms struggle to access vital business loans and overdraft facilities. This is prohibiting business investment in ongoing activities. Accessing credit is the now the number one challenge for owners of small firms.