However, one key factor that continues to dominate today’s success stories is technology, particularly, how technology is used to innovate. You only need look at the likes of Whatsapp, Uber and Instagram to see just how important technology has become. Uber was founded five years ago, and Whatsapp just six, yet both brands already dominate their respective industries.
And it appears that British small business owners also recognise the importance of tech innovation. A study we commissioned last month revealed that 60 per cent of UK SME owners believe it’s imperative that businesses keep up with the latest technologies in order to survive.
In fact, small business owners are more aware of the importance of adopting new technology than the average Brit. Over half of SME owners are interested to see how technology will advance, as opposed to a third of general consumers.
Interestingly, one of our customers, CJH of Shottery, a luxury chauffeuring business, has replaced its entire fleet of cars with 100 per cent electrics this year (the Tesla Model S). The benefits to the business have been significant:
- Projected increase in new customers of 35 per cent by the end of 2015
- Excellent economy per charge – approx. 260-270 miles per tank, perfect for transfers to and from LHR (200 mile round trip)
- With the government £5,000 low emission grant and the saving on not paying VAT, electric vehicles are affordable
- On top of this, businesses receive 100 per cent tax relief against their corporation tax
- No London congestion charge
And the pace of change isn’t slowing down, as brands continue to assess new technologies and adjust their businesses.
One such innovation is autonomous cars, with heavyweight brands such as Apple and Google having already unveiled concepts. Uber has also thrown itself into the ‘self- driving’ ring.
On the face of it, autonomous cars deliver a multitude of benefits with the potential to revolutionise personal transport, cut carbon emissions and even reduce the number of accidents. However, its arrival hasn’t been without concern and criticism. As with all new technology – there needs to be true value and demand for it to prosper.
So what do UK SME owners make of autonomous car tech?
- Forty per cent of SME owners admitted they would own an autonomous car in the future – as opposed to just 20 per cent of British consumers
- Two thirds believe cars will be driverless in the future – whereas 90 per cent of consumers don’t think driverless cars will ever become a reality
- Nearly 6 in 10 small business owners think black cabs will be driverless in the future
In short, technology innovation is vital for success. The challenge resides in developing technology where there is a genuine need.
Over the next few years, it will be interesting to see which brands successfully implement new technologies to grow their business. Will a UK start up become the next Whatsapp or Facebook?
Ryan Georgiades is managing director of Plan Insurance Brokers.